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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: International Symposium on Evaluating Digital Cultural Resources (EDCR 2016)


International Symposium on Evaluating Digital Cultural Resources (EDCR 2016)
Glasgow, Kelvin Hall, 12-13 December 2016

Organized by the Scottish Network on Digital Cultural Resources Evaluation

Submission deadline: Friday, 7 October 2016


Digital technologies are affecting all aspects of our lives, reshaping the way we communicate, learn, and approach the world around us. In the case of cultural institutions, digital applications are used in all key areas of operation, from documenting, interpreting and exhibiting the collections to communicating with diverse audience groups. The communication of collections information in digital form, whether an online catalogue, mobile application, museum interactive or social media exchange, increasingly affects our cultural encounters and shapes our perception of cultural organisations. Although cultural and higher education institutions around the world are heavily investing on digitisation and working to make their collections available online, we still know very little about who uses digital collections, how they interact with the associated data, and what the impacts of these digital resources are.


The symposium is organized by the Scottish Network on Digital Cultural Resources Evaluation (ScotDigiCH), which is funded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ScotDigiCH is co-ordinated by the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII), at the University of Glasgow in collaboration with The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Life Museums, the Moving Image Archive of the National Library of Scotland and the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Strathclyde.


The symposium seeks to address this gap by bringing together interested parties from a range of disciplines (e.g. computing science, digital humanities, museology, social sciences), practices and sectors to set an agenda for research and discuss the latest developments on evaluating the use of cultural digital resources. The symposium will address:

  • Who uses digital cultural resources, where and how
  • Diverse users’ needs and expectations (i.e. from schoolchildren and families to students and researchers)
  • Impact and value of digital cultural resources
  • Ways of recording and assessing impact and value
  • Implications for policy and future strategies

The programme will include a public lecture on the afternoon of the 12th December by Dr Mark O’Neill, Director for Policy and Research at Glasgow Life.

The symposium will also include an open evening dedicated to exploring the digital collections at the new state-of-the-art collections research facilities at Kelvin Hall, one of Glasgow’s iconic landmarks. Read more on Call: International Symposium on Evaluating Digital Cultural Resources (EDCR 2016)…

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Preserving experience: The virtual Holocaust survivor

[This story from The Guardian highlights one of, if not the, most important applications of presence-evoking technology, the preservation of individual and cultural history. The original version includes an additional image and a 0:51 minute video; also see “Holocaust Survivor Experiences Her Own Rescue in Virtual Reality“ (which includes a video) in TIME. –Matthew]

Hologram of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter

The virtual Holocaust survivor: How history gained new dimensions

Pinchas Gutter survived a Nazi death camp – and now his story will live on through a hologram that can answer your questions

Thomas McMullan
18 June 2016

Pinchas Gutter goes out of his way to find me biscuits. In a sun-baked living room in his north London home, he opens a packet of Rich Tea, sits down and tells me about the Holocaust.

Gutter was seven years old when the second world war broke out. He lived in the Warsaw ghetto for three and a half years, took part in its uprising, survived six Nazi concentration camps – including the Majdanek extermination camp – and lived through a death march across Germany to Theresienstadt in occupied Czechoslovakia.

“Remembrance is the secret of redemption, while forgetting leads to exile,” he says, quoting the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidic Judaism.

“For me this whole thing is about not forgetting. Because if you forget, you repeat it over and over again. To me, the great importance of testimony is not to forget what people are capable of.” Sitting opposite him here in Hampstead, meeting his eyes and hearing his voice, the idea of forgetting this extraordinary story seems impossible.

One week later I am staring into Gutter’s eyes again. But these eyes are on a screen in the Alternate Realities strand of Sheffield’s international documentary festival. The version of Gutter projected on the monitor is a prototype for a responsive hologram that will be wheeled into classrooms, lecture halls and museums. The idea is that the audience asks questions and pre-recorded memories from Gutter will respond – much as if you’re talking to the real person. This virtual Gutter meets my gaze and tilts his head when I speak into the microphone.

The project, called New Dimensions in Testimony, was thought up by concept developer Heather Maio, and was made in a collaboration between the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and the Shoah Foundation – an organisation dedicated to making and archiving interviews with survivors and witnesses of genocide.

The prototype involved filming extensive interviews with Gutter using an array of cameras and a specialised light stage. The team at ICT then used natural language processing software to help create an interactive version of the video footage, with vocal cues triggering responses from the pool of recorded speech.

Complex algorithms dictate which responses are played back – faintly reminiscent of virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, except that while those pieces of software are primed to answer your questions about emails or the weather, New Dimensions in Testimony is based on communicating one man’s experience of genocide.

“We wanted the visitor to experience the discussion and what that means to them,” Maio tells me. “Not the technology that goes around it and makes it work. In fact, we didn’t want them to think there was technology around them at all.” Read more on Preserving experience: The virtual Holocaust survivor…

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Call: BEA2017 Research Symposium ‘Video Games: A Medium That Demands Our Attention’

Call for Papers:
Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Research Symposium “Video Games: A Medium That Demands Our Attention”
In Las Vegas, Nevada during BEA2017 on Sunday, April 23, 2017

Research Symposium Chair: Nicholas David Bowman (

Paper Deadline: December 1, 2016

From the first “interactive computer demonstrations” at MIT in the 1950s to the blockbuster Grand Theft Auto V in 2013 (the highest-selling packaged media product of all-time), video games have continually captured the public’s imagination and interest. Video games are credited with improving the skills of pilots and surgeons and encouraging murder and mayhem. The gaming industry’s revenues have continually exceeded the film industry, while debates rage as to whether games are toys or more serious forms of art. Games are celebrated for their ability to spark children’s emotions, and chided for corrupting their morals. Finally, games are regarded as social media technologies that encourage interaction, while also regarded as distractions from reality that result in social isolation.

In parallel with these interests is a growing field of scholarly study around video games. The Digital Games Research Association counts nearly six dozen academic journals devoted to games research, and both the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association have formed game studies divisions. The regulation of video games has been raised at state and federal levels in the United States and abroad, and as the medium (and the industry) continues to evolve, so does the academic and general public interests in the uses and effects of the medium.

Somewhat lost in debates over video games as a “good” or “bad” technology is a more nuanced understanding of the experience of digital gaming itself. At least one way to understand video games is to focus on the unique elements of the medium that jointly and individually lead to the creation of the digital experience. Video games can place immense demand on the user’s cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social resources.

The 2017 BEA Research Symposium will sponsor:

  • Paper Competitions – for faculty & students
  • Student Poster Competition – undergraduate & graduate categories

The Student Paper Competition offers prizes of $300 (1st place), $200 (2nd place), $100 (3rd place). The Student Poster Competition offers certificates of participation to all presenters, as well as prizes for the top posters (posters will be invited from the submitted manuscripts, rather than accepted as a separate submission category). Select papers from the Symposium will also be invited for publication in an edited volume with Routledge, with publication expected in 2018. Additionally, chapters for this volume will also be solicited from, and chapter proposals will be accepted from, scholars not part of the BEA Symposium.

This symposium aims to encourage continued research on each of these for points, with the end goal of broadening and deepening our understanding of the experience of gaming. Scholars are invited to submit original research reports, theoretical proposals/syntheses, or research proposals/in-progress data reports (4000-word limit, inclusive) focused on one of the four conference tracks: Read more on Call: BEA2017 Research Symposium ‘Video Games: A Medium That Demands Our Attention’…

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New HHI system allows realistic, full-size 3D human body reconstruction in virtual environments

[Presence-evoking technology continues to advance toward the visions imagined in science fiction; note especially the possibilities for fully interactive videoconferencing and entertainment mentioned in this press release from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute. –Matthew]

HHI 3D Human Body Reconstruction

[Image: Right in the middle of the action with VR glasses: A new camera system virtually represents people naturally and realistically. © Photo Fraunhofer HHI]

Beam me up to the video conference

When science fiction heroes communicate, they don‘t use landlines or cell phones. The caller simply appears in virtual form in the middle of the room; full sized and three dimensional. For researchers at Fraunhofer, this vision is already within reach: At the trade fairs IFA in Berlin (Hall 11.1, Booth 3) and IBC in Amsterdam (Hall 8, Booth 8.B80) they will show a new technology called “3D Human Body Reconstruction”.

September 1, 2016

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI in Berlin have developed a method by which the realistic image of a person can be transmitted in a virtual world; and just like in science fiction movies, the image appears full sized and three dimensional. The image can be viewed from different directions and the viewer can even walk around it – just like in the movie. Until now, this was not possible; even virtual reality (VR) still has its limits. People can be represented by artificial three-dimensional models (so-called avatars) that can be seen when the viewer puts on VR data goggles. Nevertheless, these artificial figures do not have a lifelike appearance or natural movement. Another option is to play the video image of a person in frontal view in the VR data goggles. However, the viewer cannot walk around the image. As a result, the whole scene looks artificial as one moves through the virtual world. The person always turns his two-dimensional front to the viewer.

20 stereo cameras

In contrast, the HHI researchers have perfected the three-dimensional impression. To do so, they have developed a camera system that films the person. The core of this system is a stereo camera: Just as people do with their two eyes, the camera records the person with two lenses. This stereoscopic vision results in distances being estimated well, because both eyes look at an object from a slightly different angle. The result is a three-dimensional impression. Recording a person in detail from all directions takes more than one camera. “We are currently using more than 20 stereo cameras to map a human,” says Oliver Schreer, Head of the Research Group “Immersive Media & Communication” at HHI. Each camera only captures a part of the person. The challenge is to merge the individual camera images together so that a realistic overall picture is produced.

The system includes more than just the camera technology. The researchers have developed algorithms that can quickly extract depth information from the stereoscopic camera images. This is necessary in order to calculate the 3D form of a captured person. The computer calculates a virtual model of the human, which is then transferred into the virtual scene. The cameras perceive the surface shape with many details. In this way even small wrinkles, e.g. on the clothes of the person, can be shown. The model has a natural and realistic appearance.

“In developing these algorithms, special care has been taken to ensure they work efficiently and fast, so the movements of dialogue partners can very quickly be converted into a dynamic model,” Schreer says, since this is the only way that the movements will look natural. The images from a single camera pair can be processed in real time. Read more on New HHI system allows realistic, full-size 3D human body reconstruction in virtual environments…

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Job: PhD position in Smart Social Systems and Spaces Project at University of Twente

University of Twente
Enschede, Netherlands

PhD position on the improvement of the interactive technology that measures and interprets human behaviour and experiences!/vacature/278285

Applications by 3 October 2016

The research falls partly under the multidisciplinary research institute CTIT ( and the 4TU research centre Humans & Technology (


The 4TU research centre Humans & Technology (H&T) has a vacancy for a PhD candidate to be based at the Human Media Interaction research group of the University of Twente and working on sensing and social signal processing.

The research is to be carried out as part of a larger project – S4 – that will be studying Smart Social Systems and Spaces that assess and improve humans’ behaviours and experiences in their social contexts – in the office and at home. Six PhD candidates and three postdocs will improve the technology for sensing and interpretation of the situated behaviours and experiences (“Sensing and Modelling”), and develop methods and techniques to support the well-being through ambient intelligence and “persuasive” companions that assist in keeping up a happy and healthy lifestyle (“Happy and Healthy Life Style Support). Furthermore, we will focus on methodological innovations in the new fields where design, technology and the social sciences meet (“Methodology”).

The main question for this PhD is: “How can we improve the interactive technology that measures and interprets human behaviour and experiences?”

Via current sensing technology, a rich set of data can be collected on human behaviours and experiences. However, more accurate interpretations of these data are needed (addressing the personal and contextual influences), for instance by looking deeper into multimodality. Besides measuring the individual (affective, mental, and physical state and dynamics) it is also important to look at the group level.

YOUR PROFILE Read more on Job: PhD position in Smart Social Systems and Spaces Project at University of Twente…

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AltspaceVR’s Democracy Plaza puts you in the middle of the 2016 election

[Now you can experience America’s controversial political campaign in virtual reality; this story is from Next Reality, where it includes more images and a 0:29 minute video. –Matthew]

Trump and Clinton avatars

[Image: Virtual avatars of Hillary and Trump nearly make physical contact in virtual space. Will this someday mirror reality? Via AltspaceVR]

AltspaceVR’s Democracy Plaza Puts You in the Middle of the 2016 Election

Adam Dachis
September 22, 2016

Most of us don’t get the opportunity to see election coverage first hand, but with virtual reality, we’re not as restricted. AltspaceVR has teamed up with NBC News to let you log in on your computer or VR headset and actually take part in the action—just not physically.

AltspaceVR created a virtual Rockefeller Center Plaza where we can take our virtual avatars to get a front row seat of NBC News’ election coverage this year. Anyone with a Mac or Windows PC can tune in and participate, but if you want the immersive experience, you’ll need a VR headset like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Samsung Gear VR. Read more on AltspaceVR’s Democracy Plaza puts you in the middle of the 2016 election…

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Call: 7th Annual Emerging Learning Design Conference (ELDc17)

Call for Proposals

7th Annual Emerging Learning Design Conference (ELDc17)
June 1st & 2nd, 2017
Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA

Early submission deadline: October 10, 2016

The theme for this year’s conference is “Where Teaching, Learning, and Technology Converge”

When teaching, learning, and technology converge we find the potential for an inclusive learning experience that is both engaging and connected to curricular needs, without being dated. 21st century technologies provide a common space to explore and experience in an engaging and/or collaborative educational experience grounded in knowledge, strong pedagogy and learning theory.

Consider the times of convergence you’ve experienced – What made it effective and where were your challenges? What worked, and what needed refining? What were your ingenious, light-bulb moments and what were the lead balloons? Share your stories and your insight as we discuss where teaching, learning, and technology converge. Read more on Call: 7th Annual Emerging Learning Design Conference (ELDc17)…

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Presence in movie theaters: The role of screen masking

[As this story from ScreenCrush notes, there are many factors that can ‘break’ presence in a movie theater, including the lack of proper screen masking. –Matthew]

theater seats

A Small Issue at Movie Theaters Is Becoming a Major Problem

Matt Singer | September 19, 2016

People texting on their phones. Exorbitant ticket prices. People talking on their phones. Sound that’s either way too loud or way too soft. People taking pictures of the screen with their phones and then posting them to Facebook in the middle of the film. Going to the movies in 2016 can be a frustrating situation. An experience designed to take us away from our everyday troubles is now fraught with them.

For a lot of these problems, there’s no easy solution. But there’s one issue that I’ve noticed happening more and more that, if properly addressed, would make a significant improvement on the theatrical experience. It’s a problem that requires a small fix, one so small I’m surprised it’s become an issue in the first place: Theaters not properly masking their screens. Read more on Presence in movie theaters: The role of screen masking…

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Call: “Digital Gaming Among Older Populations” at HCII 2017

Call for Papers

“Digital Gaming Among Older Populations”
19th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII)
July 9-14, 2017
Vancouver, Canada

Information deadline: September 30

Dear Colleagues,

This year the 19th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII) will be held in beautiful Vancouver, Canada on July 9-14. HCII will also host affiliated conferences, including the 3rd International Conference on Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population (ITAP).

I am organizing a session titled “Digital Gaming Among Older Populations”, which aims to highlight research on various aspects related to older populations who currently play or may play digital games. Topics that may be explored in this invited session include, but are not limited to:

  • aspects related to intergenerational gaming,
  • platform use/preferences,
  • methodological approaches for researching older adult gamers,
  • issues related to game preferences,
  • the use of games for social interaction

Read more on Call: “Digital Gaming Among Older Populations” at HCII 2017…

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It’s starting with elevators, but 3D tech like the Hololens will change the way we look at buildings

[As the author of this piece in TreeHugger notes, mixed reality (and the presence experiences it provides) has great potential beyond the important application area of elevator maintenance and repair described here. The original story includes two videos and several more images; the press release is available from thyssenkrupp. –Matthew]

Using Hololens to look at elevator

[Image: © thyssenkrupp/ using hololens to look at elevator]

It’s starting with elevators, but 3D tech like the Hololens will change the way we look at buildings

Lloyd Alter
September 16, 2016

This site has long been preoccupied with the future of work: how new technology is changing our jobs, and can possibly change our ecological footprint. I saw a bit of that future in New York City, with the demonstration of the use of Microsoft’s Hololens by thyssenkrupp Elevator.

The Hololens is described by Microsoft as “the first fully self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to interact with high‑definition holograms in your world.” It’s not virtual reality, but what they call “Mixed reality”, which blends 3D holographic content into your physical world, “giving your holograms real-world context and scale, allowing you to interact with both digital content and the world around you.” You can see it in action in this video:

Essentially, you look through the goggles and see the object, can walk around it, zoom in and out, rotate and if it was built to do so, explode it into its components. As an architect, I can say right now that this is going to revolutionize the design, construction and maintenance of buildings, perhaps as dramatically as CAD and BIM have.

I believe this because elevators are a big, complex and expensive part of buildings, and thyssenkrupp Elevator is revolutionizing the way they work on them right now. However the technologies that they are demonstrating have broad implications for everyone in the building and many other businesses. Read more on It’s starting with elevators, but 3D tech like the Hololens will change the way we look at buildings…

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