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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: “Closed Systems / Open Worlds” (book chapters)

Call for Chapters:
Closed Systems / Open Worlds


Deadline for précis:  15 September 2014 (extended)

Edited by:  Jeremy Hunsinger (Wilfrid Laurier University), Jason Nolan (Ryerson University) & Melanie McBride (York University)

This book will consist of explorations at the boundaries of virtual worlds as enclosed but encouraging spaces for exploration, learning, and enculturation. Game/worlds like Second Life, OpenSim, Minecraft, and Cloud Party are providing spaces for the construction of alternatives and reimaginings, though frequently they end up more as reproductions. We seek to challenge those spaces and their creativities and imaginings.

These worlds exist as both code and conduct. Code is a modulating multiple signifier, in that the interpreters of the code vary from human to machine and that our understanding of the signifier changes the worldliness in itself. The conduct of both participants and administrators of these spaces influences how they flourish and then fade. As such the worlds and their anima/animus are socially constructed fictions where authors/creators/users, both above and below the actions are sometimes in concert, yet often in conflict with the space and intentions of the originators.

This book seeks critically engaged scholars who want to risk the possibility of change in the face of closed systems. We are looking for critical or speculative essays that must be theoretically, empirically and/or contextually grounded chapters of 5000-6500 words plus apparatus. Doctoral students and non-tenure faculty members will be afforded blind peer review upon request.

We are aiming for 12 -14 chapters that define the boundaries and thus likely futures of research on virtual worlds. Read more on Call: “Closed Systems / Open Worlds” (book chapters)…

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Swimarium: The virtual reality swimming pool

[From Swimarium concept art

Swimarium: The virtual reality swimming pool

By Stu Robarts
August 13, 2014

If you’ve ever fancied scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef but can’t afford it, this idea from OVA Studio might provide a solution. The Swimarium is a design concept in which LED screens are placed all around a pool to create an immersive virtual swimming experience that would let you dive anywhere in the world. Read more on Swimarium: The virtual reality swimming pool…

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Call: “Usability testing of video games: Multidisciplinary case studies” (Chapter proposals)


Usability Testing of Video Games: Multidisciplinary Case Studies

A book edited by Dr. Miguel A. Garcia-Ruiz, Algoma University, Canada
To be published by CRC Press/Taylor & Francis:


Usability Testing of Video Games: Multidisciplinary Case Studies will present case studies describing academic research and practicing hands-on experience on usability testing methodologies and techniques, with the aim of improving the human-computer interfaces of video games and players’ user experience (UX). The usability experiences will be presented as comprehensive case studies to be used as learning and teaching materials in video game design and development, usability, human-computer interaction, software engineering, and related undergraduate and graduate courses. The case studies can also be used by scholars and practitioners from the video game industry interested in the topic.

Writing case studies on usability should require the “coming together” of science, technology and social knowledge in an interdisciplinary fashion, since the field of usability is supported by a number of knowledge areas. This book will include new perspectives from academics and practitioners around the world on how and why usability can support the design and development of video games. Usability Testing of Video Games: Multidisciplinary Case Studies will be a comprehensive-yet specialized compendium of usability case studies using state-of-the-art approaches. Read more on Call: “Usability testing of video games: Multidisciplinary case studies” (Chapter proposals)…

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New military jets so powerful pilots must be trained in VR

[From F-22 Raptor - Red Flag July 2014

New Military Jets Are So Powerful, Pilots Must Be Trained in Virtual Reality

Written by Jordan Pearson
August 11, 2014

The latest generation of US Air Force fighter jets are smarter, stealthier, and more lethal than their predecessors, but they present an unexpected hurdle: The new jets are too powerful to unleash their full potential during training exercises. One general believes that training pilots in virtual reality is the solution.

Fifth generation jets like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II boast weaponized high technology like supersonically launched guided missiles and a wealth of sensors that provide full situational awareness to the pilot, simplify decision-making, and allow for advancements like automated targeting. In short, they’re pretty scary and lethal as hell.

It sounds like it would be a military honcho’s dream, but General Mike Hostage has a few complaints, as Air Force Times first reported. Namely, he can’t let them loose during Red Flag training, which prepares roughly 27,000 pilots and engineers for combat every year.

“The fifth generation brought us capabilities and lethalities that are straining my abilities at Red Flag to produce that same realistic combat environment,” Hostage said in an Air Force Association speech last month, “I can’t turn on every bell and whistle on my new fifth-generation platforms because a) they’re too destructive, and b) I don’t want the bad guys to know what I’m able to do.”

To overcome this limitation, the Air Force is using virtual reality to train its pilots in every facet of fifth generation fighter jet technology. They’re getting quite good at it. By doing the first leg of their training in a simulated environment before they get into the real thing, pilots are able to try out the cutting-edge weapons systems that they wouldn’t get to test otherwise. Read more on New military jets so powerful pilots must be trained in VR…

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Call: Theories/Applications of Social Science for Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces (at ITS 2014)


Social ITS: Tutorial and Workshop on Theories and Applications of Social Science for Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces

In conjunction with ACM ITS 2014
Dresden, Germany
November 16, 2014

Important Dates

  • Submission Deadline:  September 5, 2014, 5pm PDT
  • Notification to Authors:  September 23, 2014
  • NEW EVENT FORMAT:  Tutorial (½ day) + Workshop (½ day):  November 16, 2014

Social ITS Tutorial + Workshop Theme

There is an increasing trend in the human-computer interaction (HCI) and interactive tabletop and surfaces (ITS) communities towards the application of social theories describing human and social behaviour into our technology designs. For example, social theories that describe how people utilize different spatial distances to engage in different types of interactions with others, how collaborative and communication practices are employed in face-to-face environments, have been appropriated by ITS researchers to create new forms of interactive surface interactions in a variety of contexts.

In this combined tutorial and workshop venue, we review and discuss social science theories relevant to the design of interactive surfaces. We aim to facilitate knowledge exchange on the inherent challenges of applying social theories to build systems, and to establish a community of practice to help develop effective strategies for successfully applying social theories to the design of Interactive Surfaces. Read more on Call: Theories/Applications of Social Science for Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces (at ITS 2014)…

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CEEDs: Making sense of big data with VR and the unconscious mind

[From CEEDs Project web site]

CEEDs demo

[Image: Federico Guerrini

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic, is a well-known quote – often mistakingly attributed to Stalin. Regardless of the author, the sentence is interesting because it can be read in at least two ways: in one, it relates with compassion fatigue, our inability of feeling outrage when the horror surpasses a certain threshold. But it might also be seen as pointing to our inability to visualize and grasp the meaning of huge data amounts.

When numbers are too high, the mind struggles to make sense of them. If, instead of a single number, you deal with large datasets, it’s difficult to find meaningful patterns that characterize them. It’s what’s happening now, in all kind of disciplines, from astronomy to neuroscience, archaeology, history or economics: every single minute, the world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data, equal to 360,000 DVDs. How can we make sense of it? In fact, we largely don’t. Our mind alone, even with the help of computers is simply not equipped to take this challenge.

Or when it is, it would take too much time to do so. But what if we could present the data in a way that’s more “empathic”, closer to the way in which we usually address the world? That’s exactly what scientists at the CEEDs (which stands for Collective Experience of Empathic Data Systems) project, a consortium of 16 partners in 9 European countries, are trying to do.

Using the eXperience Induction Machine (XIM), an immersive multi-modal environment located at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, they are trying to use virtual reality to enable users to ‘step inside’ large datasets. Since, as they say, an image is worth a thousand words, you may want to have a look at the video [Read more on CEEDs: Making sense of big data with VR and the unconscious mind…

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Call: “Practical Virtual Reality Technologies and Applications” special issue of IEEE Computer Graphics & Apps

Call For Papers
IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications
Special Issue on Practical Virtual Reality Technologies and Applications

Final submissions due:  1 Jan. 2015
Publication date:  1 Sep. 2015

VR research received much attention in the ’80s. It then became quiet for many years owing to the expensive hardware, including sensing, rendering, and display equipment. It has been receiving more attention since 2000 owing to the availability of inexpensive graphics cards and sensors, and the popularity of applications in such areas as gaming and virtual worlds. Recently, many augmented-reality applications have been developed, exploiting the popularity of mobile devices, which contain cameras and various sensors.

For this special issue, we solicit papers describing practical VR technologies or systems that have explicit applications. We’re particularly interested in technologies and systems for use in the mobile environment. Topics of interests include, but aren’t limited to,

  • computer graphics techniques for VR,
  • real-time rendering,
  • real-time animation,
  • mobile technologies for VR,
  • gaming and real-time entertainment,
  • interactive social worlds,
  • augmented VR, and
  • telepresence.

Read more on Call: “Practical Virtual Reality Technologies and Applications” special issue of IEEE Computer Graphics & Apps…

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Lessons from BBC virtual reality stream at Glasgow Games

[From BBC’s 3:57 minute video report]

Woman trying BBC VR at Commonwealth Games

Lessons from BBC virtual reality stream at Glasgow Games

The BBC Research and Development team shares what lessons were drawn from the first virtual reality sports stream and how they can be used in the future

Posted: 8 August 2014
By: Catalina Albeanu

A virtual reality live stream was set up at the Commonwealth Games last week to allow viewers outside of the Hydro Arena to experience the gymnastics competition as if they were comfortably seated in the stalls.

The BBC Research and Development (R&D) team placed a 360 degree camera and an audio microphone which recorded sound from all directions in the arena, and streamed the content to an Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset in the Glasgow Science Centre, half a mile away.

The team has been experimenting with ways in which the BBC might use virtual reality in its programming if the technology became a popular consumer product.

Bruce Weir, senior technologist, immersive and interactive content at BBC R&D, told the Commonwealth Games “seemed like an excellent opportunity to get this technology in front of people who may not have seen anything like it before, just to get an idea of how they reacted to it, whether they thought it was something they’d be interested in and any technical issues that they’ve spotted that perhaps we glossed over that were quite important to them.” Read more on Lessons from BBC virtual reality stream at Glasgow Games…

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Call: CAADRIA 2015 – “Emerging Experiences in the Past, Present, and Future of Digital Architecture”

Call for Papers

20th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA 2015)
Emerging Experiences in the Past, Present, and Future of Digital Architecture
May 20-23, 2015
Kyungpook National University (KNU),
Daegu, Republic of Korea

500-Word Abstract Due September 26, 2014

The adoption of computational processes in architecture has transformed the way we think, design and make, thereby enhancing our understanding, skills and performance in architectural design and research. Since 1996, CAADRIA has contributed to the exchange of information relating to studies and technologies in architecture and design by promoting dialogue, collaboration, and the dissemination of information among leading researchers and practitioners in the field of digital architecture. CAADRIA 2015 celebrates the twenty-year history of CAADRIA with the theme, “Emerging Experiences in the Past, Present, and Future of Digital Architecture”.

The concept of emerging experience originated from the field of Human–Computer Interaction (HCI), and means ‘novel computer interaction and experience’. The theme for CAADRIA 2015 encompasses the total complement of effective innovation and experiences of digital technologies and design research over the twenty years of CAADRIA’s existence. By reflecting on the past, speculating about the present, and exploring the future of digital architecture in CAADRIA, we intend to inspire and to share innovative ideas, emphasizing a cross-disciplinary context in technologies in architecture to promote research in CAAD which enhances creativity. Read more on Call: CAADRIA 2015 – “Emerging Experiences in the Past, Present, and Future of Digital Architecture”…

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Help Me Obi: Is this the first true 3D video?

[From The Creators Project, including this quote from Chris Helson: “When you actually stand there with them floating in front of you, they have a life that you connect to in a very different way than you would with a film or video, or even a 3D film.”]

Image from Help Me Obi

Help Me Obi: Is this the first true 3D video?

Art installation Help Me Obi plays projected video that viewers can walk around and watch from any position.

by Michelle Starr
July 27, 2014

Video that can be viewed from any direction is something of a white whale. Although holograms are now being used in an increasing number of situations — from assistance at airports to stage shows — they are 2D affairs that can only be properly viewed from a certain angle.

An artwork, however, while not holographic, has broken through into that third dimension, showing moving images that can be viewed from any direction, looking exactly the same no matter where you stand.

The artwork, called Help Me Obi — named, of course, for the famous scene in “Star Wars” — is the creation of Scotland-based artists Chris Helson and Sarah Jackets, who have been working on the project for about eight years.

“It’s not actually a 3D hologram, we use the term holographic to help to describe it because there is nothing else like it, it’s a device that produces 360 degree video objects. The machine creates 360-degree moving video objects apparently floating in space. The viewer is able to walk around the machine and see the video object from any position,” Helson, who trained in aircraft engineering before studying art and working as an artist for the past two decades, explained. Read more on Help Me Obi: Is this the first true 3D video?…

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