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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Jobs: 2 PhD positions in hybrid virtual museum design at IT University of Copenhagen

2 PhD positions in hybrid virtual museum design
The IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Application deadline: September 20, 2016

The IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, invites candidates to apply for 2 PhD positions starting in 31 December 2016 or soon thereafter.

The positions will form part of a project funded by a grant from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, entitled “Meaningful Personalization of Hybrid Virtual Museum Experiences Through Gifting and Appropriation (The GIFT project)”. The GIFT project aims to develop a framework with tools, theory and best practice guidelines to guide the development of mobile apps for museums that facilitate personalized experiences of both digital and physical museum exhibitions, along with two prototypes of such applications.

The project includes 5 European research partners beside ITU: Blast Theory (UK), NextGame (RS), University of Nottingham (UK), University of Uppsala (SE) and Europeana Foundation (NL). In addition, the project will work with representatives from 10 museums in 8 European countries: Denmark, Sweden, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy and Serbia.

For more information, see

Candidates for the positions will be expected to contribute to both the project’s outcome and research goals.

The project’s outcome goals include:

  • Formulating a set of best practice guidelines for meaningful personalisation of hybrid virtual museum experiences, based on an action research process with a panel of museum partners;
  • Contribute to the design of prototypes for hybrid virtual museum experiences;
  • Study, validate and evaluate prototypes developed by project partners.

In addition, the project has the following research goals:

  • Develop innovative approaches to the design of playful experiences with art and cultural heritage;
  • Formulate new perspectives on pervasive games and other playful experiences that incorporate both physical and virtual presence;
  • Propose new approaches for facilitating personalized experiences with cultural heritage which aim to bridge or problematize the distances between audiences and heritage, e.g. cultural, historical, ideological, aesthetic, or other.

Read more on Jobs: 2 PhD positions in hybrid virtual museum design at IT University of Copenhagen…

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HR Rings let partners feel each other’s heartbeats in real time

[Presence can evoked by simple, low-bandwidth cues too; this story is from Yahoo! Tech (where it includes two other images). See also coverage of the related Pillow Talk product in ISPR Presence News. –Matthew]

Heartbeat Rings on two hands

The love of your life can hear your heartbeat in real time with smart wedding band

Kyle Wiggers
August 4, 2016

There’s something irrefutably intangible about a phone conversation — especially with a loved one. Sure, voice and video chat is good in a pinch, but there’s no replacement for more palpable signs of affection like, say, a warm embrace. Transmitting that sort of physicality over the internet is, needless to say, a tall order, but it’s nonetheless one that wearable company Touch is attempting to fill with the HB Ring, a “smart wedding band” that transmits the rhythm of your partner’s heartbeat in real time. Read more on HR Rings let partners feel each other’s heartbeats in real time…

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Call: Symposia for Society for Study of AI and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB) 2017 Convention


Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB) 2017 Convention (AISB ’17)
~19-21 April 2017, University of Bath, UK

DEADLINE: 15 September 2016


Dear Colleagues,

The world’s oldest AI society, The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB), sponsors the world’s longest-running annual AI convention, consisting of a collocation of themed symposia, workshops, and events in areas of artificial intelligence and cognitive science. The AISB convention aims to provide a unique opportunity to promote emerging work on a timely theme spanning the full range of research taking place within Artificial Intelligence, but with a particular emphasis on the simulation of behaviour (that is, on understanding natural intelligence).

AISB 2017 will be held at the University of Bath, chaired by Joanna Bryson, Marina De Vos, and Julian Padget. In addition to the academic meeting, we anticipate having a conference dinner on the first night of the meeting (on campus), and a general reception in town at the Roman Baths on the second, with block bookings made at a variety of local restaurants. Sign-up for the various bookings will be held at the dinner and during the meeting’s second day. We will also try to arrange special rates for tours (e.g. Stonehenge, Bletchley Park) and at the Thermal Bath Spa for the weekend following, to encourage participants to stay through the end of the third day.

We have reinstituted the idea of having a convention theme, and have chosen Society with AI. Symposia are not required to contribute to the theme, but creative linking is encouraged. While follow-on symposia from previous years are welcome, new symposium topics and organisers are particularly encouraged. We aim to promote this thesis: AI is neither science fiction nor dystopian future, but rather a part of our present and near-future lives, and to encourage the academic exploration of its full consequences. Read more on Call: Symposia for Society for Study of AI and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB) 2017 Convention…

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How VR and presence will change everything for music

[This post from the blog of Grammy nominated DJ/producer Morgan Page (also available via OSSIC) provides an insider’s view of the current status and potential future of VR and presence in nearly all aspects of music: consumption, performance, collaboration and sharing, and learning and teaching; it features 11 videos that illustrate the author’s points. Btw, DAW is an acronym for Digital Audio Workstation. –Matthew]

Art: People made up of particles run in abstract environment

Beyond the DAW – How VR Will Change Everything

July 27, 2016

After spending two weeks with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, it’s clear that virtual reality will completely reshape the human experience. These devices transport you to another world. They will usher in an alternate reality, adding a new perspective to everything in modern life, and a physical interaction to every experience. Gaming will lead the charge, as well as cinematic narratives, but what about music?

DAWs have been around for over 20 years, but even with the upgrades to 64bit software, better interfaces, improved performance and processing, and higher resolution displays – they are still fairly flat and linear, no matter how many drop shadows and embossed buttons are added.

We’ve put instruments in a flat box, replicating the best software versions of physical instruments – but there were trade-offs. Even if you perfectly matched the sound quality, you lose the actual human contact: the vibration of the guitar’s body against your chest, the resonance of a piano’s soundboard, and the weight of the keys in your fingers. These elements change the expressiveness of instruments, and steer your ideas in different directions. Beyond the haptics of the instrument, the workflow also changed. It became easier to save presets and copy existing sounds, without having to patch sounds together with cables, and much easier to play instruments that took years to master. Companies like Artiphon even advocate that “mastery is dead.”

Now we are faced with a new platform that could change everything – how we consume, create, perform, share, collaborate, learn, and teach music. Let’s look at some ideas and predictions for the years to come, and how it might influence your music. Read more on How VR and presence will change everything for music…

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Call: 1st Annual USC Virtual Reality Health Week

1st Annual USC Virtual Reality Health Week

Sponsored by The University of Southern California and the USC Institute for Creative Technologies
September 2016
Los Angeles, California


The University of Southern California and the USC Institute for Creative Technologies are proud to announce the 1st Annual USC Virtual Reality Health Week! USC VR Health Week will host a collection of conferences on topics relevant to the use of VR and advanced technologies for a range of application areas including: Pain Management, Disabilities and Mental Health, Psychological Wounds of War, Medicine, Advanced Body Sensing, and the science of Intelligent Virtual Human Agents. With the current advances, interest, and adoption of these technologies and application areas, USC and the Institute for Creative Technologies, is poised to make significant contributions via its research, development and leadership in these emerging areas. We welcome you to join us in Los Angeles as we explore and shape the future! (click on the links below to go directly to the conference sites for more information) Read more on Call: 1st Annual USC Virtual Reality Health Week…

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The Dark Ride Project uses VR to preserve the last remaining haunted house amusement rides

[The Dark Ride Project is using modern presence-evoking technologies to preserve presence experiences evoked in the haunted house amusement rides of the past. This story is from TechnoBuffalo, where it includes more images and two videos; a press release is available from Hypergrid Business; and more details and 360 videos are available on the Project’s Indigogo page. –Matthew]

Dark Ride Project founder Joel Zika

Interview: Using VR to preserve the last remaining haunted house amusement rides

By Jacob Kleinman
August 21, 2016

Joel Zika is on a mission to preserve the last remaining haunted house amusement park rides before they disappear and he’s using virtual reality to do it.

There are less than 18 working rides left in the world (12 of them in the U.S.) by his count. Zika’s already filmed six using a specially designed 360-degree camera rig, but he needs some help from the crowd-funding community to finish the job. Read more on The Dark Ride Project uses VR to preserve the last remaining haunted house amusement rides…

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Call: Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS) 2017 Conference

Call for Papers: AAMAS 2017
Sixteenth International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
May 8-12, 2017
São Paulo, Brazil


Abstract Submission: 11th of November 2016 (23:59 UTC-12)
Full Paper Submission: 15th of November, 2016 (23:59 UTC-12)
Rebuttal Phase: 9th – 10th of January, 2017 (23:59 UTC-12)
Author Notification: 24th of January, 2017


AAMAS is the leading scientific conference for research in autonomous agents and multiagent systems. The AAMAS conference series was initiated in 2002 by merging three highly respected meetings: the International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS); the International Workshop on Agent Theories, Architectures, and Languages (ATAL); and the International Conference on Autonomous Agents (AA). The aim of the joint conference is to provide a single, high-profile, internationally respected archival forum for scientific research in the theory and practice of autonomous agents and multiagent systems.


AAMAS 2017 encourages the submission of analytical, empirical, methodological, technological, and perspective papers. Analytical and empirical papers should make clear the significance and relevance of their results to the AAMAS community. Similarly, methodological and technological papers should make clear their scientific and technical contributions, and are expected to demonstrate a thorough evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses in practice. It is strongly encouraged that papers focusing on specific agent capabilities evaluate their techniques in the context of autonomous agent architectures or multiagent systems. A thorough evaluation, conducted from a theoretical or applied basis, is considered an essential component of any submission. Authors are also requested to pay particular attention to discussing how their work relates to the state of the art in autonomous agents and multiagent systems research as evidenced in, for example, previous AAMAS and related conferences. All submissions will be rigorously peer reviewed and evaluated on the basis of the overall quality of their technical contribution, including criteria such as originality, soundness, relevance, significance, quality of presentation, and understanding of the state of the art.

AAMAS 2017, the sixteenth conference in the AAMAS series, seeks the submission of high-quality papers limited to 8 pages in length, with any additional pages containing only bibliographic references. Reviews will be double blind; authors must avoid including anything that can be used to identify them. Please note that submitting an abstract is required to submit a full paper. However, the abstracts will not be reviewed and full papers must be submitted for the review process to begin. All work must be original, i.e., it must not have appeared in a conference proceedings, book, or journal and may not be under review for another archival conference. In addition to submissions in the main track, AAMAS 2017 will be soliciting papers in special tracks. The review process for the special tracks will be similar to the main track, but with program committee members specially selected for each track. All accepted papers for the special tracks will be included in the proceedings. Read more on Call: Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS) 2017 Conference…

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Project Alloy: Intel and Microsoft team up to make VR ubiquitous

[A stand-alone, open source mixed reality headset from Intel and Microsoft is likely to speed the adoption of effective presence-evoking technology. This story is from MIT Technology Review, where it includes an additional image; a 7:35 minute video of the demo is on YouTube, and for more on Intel’s larger vision “for a fully connected world,” see coverage in PC Magazine. –Matthew]

Intel Project Alloy - man holds dollar bill and sees it through headset

[Image: Depth sensors on the headset allow you to interact with things in a virtual world using your hands and fingers, or objects you are holding.]

Intel and Microsoft Are Teaming Up to Make Virtual Reality Ubiquitous

A new headset design from Intel brings your hands into virtual spaces.

by Tom Simonite
August 16, 2016

The companies that brought the world the PC boom have a plan to trigger a similar explosion in virtual-reality hardware.

Intel and Microsoft announced Tuesday that they are working together to help computer manufacturers get into the business of making stand-alone VR headsets. Today that market essentially consists of just two products, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the competing Vive from phone company HTC.

At an Intel event in San Francisco, CEO Brian Krzanich showed off his company’s new prototype, Project Alloy. He said it eliminates the inconveniences associated with existing headsets like the Oculus and Vive devices, and that next year Intel will give away the plans to computer manufacturers so they can make their own versions. Read more on Project Alloy: Intel and Microsoft team up to make VR ubiquitous…

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Call: Animation of Natural Virtual Characters – Special issue of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications


IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications (CG&A;
Special Issue on Animation of Natural Virtual Characters

Final submissions due: 1 November 2016
Publication date: July/August 2017

Virtual characters are used in a range of applications—from interfaces to games to tutors—where they must effectively employ human nonverbal communication. Often these characters must hold conversations with either human users or other characters and must appropriately utilize arm gestures, head movements, posture changes, and facial expressions. Building systems that can support these interactions involves both the automatic specification and generation of appropriate character motion as well as coordination across communication modes and between multiple characters. Challenges include expressing a range of socio-emotional signals, maintaining consistent character personalities, and communicating intended messages clearly.

This special issue of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications will provide an opportunity for researchers and practitioners in both the character animation and virtual agents fields to publish their latest work. For this special issue, we solicit papers describing innovative character animation techniques and models. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Expressive character animation (animation reflecting emotion, personality, and style)
  • Models of gesture and nonverbal communication
  • Relevant perceptual studies of character motion
  • Multimodal communicative behavior planning and coordination
  • Capturing the behavior/animation style of particular people
  • Specification and generation of conversational character models
  • Multicharacter conversational interaction
  • Machine learning techniques applied to these problems
  • Evaluations of expressive conversational character systems


Please direct any correspondence before submission to the guest editors:

Read more on Call: Animation of Natural Virtual Characters – Special issue of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications…

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How companies will use VR and read your brainwaves to sell you more stuff

[Neuromarketing using virtual and mixed reality is an important example of the promise and peril of presence; this story is from Motherboard, where the original includes three more images. –Matthew]

Woman's responses being measured while she's in VR

How Companies Will Use VR and Read Your Brainwaves to Sell You More Stuff

By David Silverberg, Contributor
August 17, 2016

I’m passing through the front foyer of a major Chinese bank. I careen through well-lit hallways and teller booths, before sliding by some signage written in Cantonese. It’s as if I’m there, minus the tellers, customers, and sounds of a bustling financial institution.

But the thing is, I’m not actually in China, or in a bank, although it almost feels as though I am. I’m using the Microsoft HoloLens to see a visual representation of this branch’s layout, as designed by Toronto branding and design agency Shikatani Lacroix. Augmented reality gives me a bird’s eye view of the scene. I then put on a Samsung Gear headset, and take a VR tour of the same space.

What I’m experiencing is part of the design firm’s offering to its clients: An application that creates realistic retail environments using 3D technology, visualized through augmented reality and virtual reality. Experts say they can then analyze a consumer’s brainwaves to judge how they’re responding to the virtual environment, via electroencephalogram, or EEG. The EEG capability comes from a new partnership with True Impact, a neuromarketing research firm.

This marriage of technologies is still in its newlywed phase, and it’s difficult to assess its value this early. But it’s easy to understand the appeal. Instead of a design firm building dollhouse prototypes to show focus groups, it can tour consumers through the environment in AR or VR, and report back to a client on what excited or bored them, using intimate details to make the case: These consumers will be outfitted with sensors across their bodies, including EEG.

“What we found with VR is that people aren’t always honest about how they feel about what they’re seeing,” said Daniel Terenzio, head of immersive solutions at Shikatani Lacroix. “But we eliminate that with neuroscience.” Read more on How companies will use VR and read your brainwaves to sell you more stuff…

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