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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: Joint Workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies and Intelligent Cinematography and Editing

Call for Papers

Joint Workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies and Intelligent Cinematography and Editing
November 11-12th, 2018
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Paper deadline: August 6th, 2018

Please consider contributing to the joint workshop of WICED (Workshop on Intelligent Cinematography and Editing) and INT (Intelligent Narrative Technologies), which will be collocated with the 14th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2018) at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

We invite submissions in the form of long papers (8 pages), short papers (4 pages), and posters (1 page).

The workshop website can be found here:


The INT/WICED joint workshop will accept papers on a rolling basis. Papers submitted before August 6, 2018 will receive decision notifications before 24 August, 2018, in time for the early registration deadline for AIIDE. All papers must be submitted before September 5th, 2018 to be considered for acceptance and publication in the joint workshop proceedings, and will receive notifications before September 20th, 2018.

The prospective schedule for the workshop is as follows:

Paper deadline: August 6th, 2018
Early Paper Notification: August 24th, 2018
Late submission deadline: September 5th, 2018
Late notification deadline: September 20th, 2018
Camera Ready Due: September 24th, 2018
Workshop date: November 11-12th, 2018


We invite papers from 4 main themes surrounding intelligent narrative and cinematography: Read more on Call: Joint Workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies and Intelligent Cinematography and Editing…

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World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing

[Here’s a new and surprising use of presence-evoking technology for summer fun. The story is from Digital Trends, where it includes a 1:06 minute video. More information from coverage in Gearbrain follows below and see the Ballast website for more on VRSlide and the company’s larger vision for underwater applications of VR and presence. –Matthew]

World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing

Luke Dormehl
July 18, 2018

Let’s face it: We live in a pretty jaded society. In such a “been there, seen that” environment, the promise of a regular ole’ waterpark wouldn’t be enough to prompt even an eye-roll emoji in response from many people. Thank goodness, then, for an amusement park in Germany whose new, world-first waterslide adds in a dose of scintillating virtual reality in an effort to make us feel something again.

“Ballast originally started by making an experimental headset that can be used underwater,” Stephen Greenwood, the CEO of Ballast VR, the company behind VRSlide, told Digital Trends. “Last summer, we were approached by German waterslide manufacturer Wiegand-Maelzer to see if we could build a system that worked on waterslides. The biggest challenge with VR on waterslides, compared to roller coasters or other track-based rides, is that every rider moves at a unique speed — meaning that in order for everything to be perfectly synchronized, we had to invent a tracking system that knows precisely where each rider is and display the VR content at a variable speed.”

A bit like the opening credits to the Naked Gun movies, in which a cop car is transported to everywhere from the inside of a pinball machine to the Death Star trench, once VRSlide riders put on their goggles, their perspective changes to give the illusion of them flying through a variety of settings. Sure, the virtual reality looks a bit more like a PlayStation 2 game than cutting-edge graphics, but Greenwood said that the results are surprisingly effective. Read more on World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing…

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Call: Artifact: Journal of Design Practice

Call for Papers
Artifact: Journal of Design Practice

Artifact: Journal of Design Practice aims to publish high-quality academic papers focused on practice-based design research that explores conditions, issues, developments and tasks pertaining to design in a broad sense. As an international design research journal, Artifact targets the global design research community with the aim of strengthening knowledge sharing and theory building of relevance to design practice. All articles and research notes are subject to double-blind peer-review. The journal is cross-disciplinary in scope and welcomes contributions from all fields of design research including product design and visual communication, user experience, interface, and service design as well as design management and organization. The editors welcome both conceptual and empirical papers.

Read more on Call: Artifact: Journal of Design Practice…

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Study: Humans show racial bias towards robots of different colors

[When racial bias has been considered in the context of presence it usually has involved virtual environments (e.g., search for the phrase in the archives of ISPR Presence News), but this story from IEEE Spectrum describes a new study that examined this bias in the context of medium-as-social-actor presence, along with the controversy the work has generated. The original version of the story includes a second image. If the link in the story doesn’t work, the study itself is available (at this writing) in a pdf file here. –Matthew]

[Image: Example of image that researchers from the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, are using to study racial bias towards robots of difference colors. Credit: University of Canterbury.]

Humans Show Racial Bias Towards Robots of Different Colors: Study

Do people display different racial biases towards black robots and white robots? A new study says yes

By Evan Ackerman
18 July 2018

The majority of robots are white. Do a Google image search for “robot” and see for yourself: The whiteness is overwhelming. There are some understandable reasons for this; for example, when we asked several different companies why their social home robots were white, the answer was simply because white most conveniently fits in with other home decor.

But a new study suggests that the color white can also be a social cue that results in a perception of race, especially if it’s presented in an anthropomorphic context, such as being the color of the outer shell of a humanoid robot. In addition, the same issue applies to robots that are black in color, according to the study. The findings suggest that people perceive robots with anthropomorphic features to have race, and as a result, the same race-related prejudices that humans experience extend to robots.

Christoph Bartneck, the lead author of the study and a professor at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, presented the results at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI) in Chicago earlier this year.

“We hope that our study encourages robot designers to create robots that represent the diversity of their communities,” Bartneck told me. “There is no need for all robots to be white.”

Bartneck suspected the research could prove controversial, but he and his collaborators—from Guizhou University of Engineering Science, China; Monash University, Australia; and University of Bielefeld, Germany—were determined to pursue the issue. “The discussion on this topic was like walking through a minefield,” he said, adding that their paper received extensive scrutiny from reviewers, some of whom accused the authors of sensationalism.

To learn more about the project, and the controversy surrounding it, we spoke with Bartneck via email. If you’d like more details on the methods used, statistical analyses applied, and numerical results, the full paper is available for download here. Read more on Study: Humans show racial bias towards robots of different colors…

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Call: IUI 2019 – 24th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces

Call for Papers

ACM IUI 2019: 24th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces
Los Angeles, CA, USA
March 17-20, 2019

Paper abstract deadline: October 1, 2018
Workshop proposal deadline: August 14, 2018

ACM IUI 2019 is the 24th annual meeting of the intelligent interfaces community and serves as a premier international forum for reporting outstanding research and development on intelligent user interfaces.

ACM IUI is where the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community meets the Artificial Intelligence (AI) community, with contributions from related fields such as psychology, behavioral science, cognitive science, computer graphics, design, the arts, and more. Our focus is to improve the interaction between humans and machines, by leveraging both HCI approaches and state-of-the art AI techniques from machine learning, natural language processing, data mining, knowledge representation and reasoning. ACM IUI welcomes contribution from all relevant arenas: academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations. Along with 25 other topics in AI & HCI, this year we especially encourage submissions on explainable intelligent user interfaces for IUI 2019.


At ACM IUI, we focus on the interaction between machine intelligence and human intelligence. While other conferences focus on one side or the other, we address the complex interaction between the two. We welcome research that explores how to make the interaction between computers and people smarter, which may leverage solutions from data mining, knowledge representation, novel interaction paradigms, and emerging technologies. We strongly encourage submissions that simultaneously discuss research from both HCI and AI. We also welcome works that focus more on one side or the other.

The conference brings together people from academia, industry, government and non-profit organizations and gives its participants the opportunity to present and see cutting-edge IUI work in a focused and interactive setting. It is large enough to be diverse and lively, but small enough to allow for extensive interaction among attendees and easy attendance to the events that the conference offers, ranging from oral paper presentations, poster sessions, workshops, panels and doctoral consortium for graduate students.

IUI topics of interest include, but are not limited to: Read more on Call: IUI 2019 – 24th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces…

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Evermore – How Utah’s new smart park is imagineered for fantasy gaming

[Evermore is a new form of smart experience theme park opening soon in Utah; this abridged story from Blooloop describes the vision for the park that “blurs the line between video games, fantasy, and real life.” See the original version for several more images and two videos and see the Evermore website for more information. –Matthew]

Evermore – how Utah’s new smart park is imagineered for fantasy gaming

Lalla Merlin
12th June 2018

Imagine a theme park without rides or IP, but with live action role playing (LARP), dragons, quests, pirates, and midnight costume parties. This is Evermore, opening in Utah later this year.

Blooloop caught up with Chief Creative Officer of the ground-breaking phenomenon, Josh Shipley, veteran Disney Imagineer. He spoke about his creative evolution and Evermore, a park which blurs the line between video games, fantasy, and real life. Read more on Evermore – How Utah’s new smart park is imagineered for fantasy gaming…

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Call: Chapters for “Social Robots: An Interdisciplinary Compendium on Technological, Societal and Ethical Aspects”

Call for Springer Book on Social Robots

Social Robots. An Interdisciplinary Compendium on Technological, Societal and Ethical Aspects

Abstract submission deadline: August 15


Social robots not only work with humans in collaborative workspaces – they start accompanying us into personal settings like home and health care. Does this imply that social robots should become more human, for example by enabling them to interpret and respond to human emotions? Should they even simulate emotions?

The book covers the phenomenon of social robots from the historic roots over today’s best practices to future perspectives. It is an interdisciplinary compendium: while focusing on aspects from computer science, it also covers disciplines like psychology, medicine, law, history, as well as arts and humanities. For developments like robots in health care and domestic areas, both technological and the ethical challenges are taken into account. Thus, the book creates both a compendium and a guideline, a design space for future developments in social robotics.


Thanks to the support of AGYA, there is a budget for professional scientific proof-reading of every accepted chapter. In addition, there is an author recognition award of € 200 per finalized chapter.


Topics include, but are not limited to

  • Human-Robot-Interaction
  • Affective and Cognitive Sciences for Socially Interactive Robots
  • Context Awareness, Expectation, and Understanding of Intention
  • Social Robots in various Domains (e.g. Domestic, Education, Health, Medicine, Sales, Entertainment)
  • User Studies with Social Robots
  • Interaction and collaboration among robots, humans, and environments
  • Societal Acceptance (and Rejection) of Social Robots
  • Socially appealing design methodologies
  • Artificial Intelligence and Embodied Agents
  • Autonomous Navigation and Locomotion
  • Robotic Simulation‎, Artificial Emotion Simulation Techniques
  • Mathematical Modeling and Simulation of Human Affective Behavior
  • History of Robots and Automata
  • Legal Perspectives on Social Robots
  • Design Space for the Development of Social Robots
  • Ethical Guidelines for the Development of Social Robots
  • Lessons Learned from National or International Projects on Social Robots


Oliver Korn, Affective & Cognitive Institute, Offenburg University,

Submission: Read more on Call: Chapters for “Social Robots: An Interdisciplinary Compendium on Technological, Societal and Ethical Aspects”…

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How VR and presence could positively impact astronauts’ mental health on long-term missions

[This story from TechRadar reviews the variety of ways virtual reality and the spatial and social presence they evoke may protect and enhance the mental health of astronauts on future long-term space missions. The original version includes additional images. –Matthew]

The tech that could keep astronauts happy on their missions to the stars

How virtual reality technology could positively impact mental health in space

By Becca Caddy
July 9, 2018

NASA has a bold plan to send astronauts to Mars by 2030 (or thereabouts). In preparation for this monumental Martian mission, the space agency needs to make sure everything’s in order years beforehand.

From engineering the rockets and making sure there are enough supplies for a round trip, to developing 3D printing tools and ensuring a long-distance communications system is up to the challenge, there’s a lot to think about, develop and test.

But it’s easy to focus on the tech and logistics and overlook arguably the most important bit of the mission: the astronauts themselves.

NASA is working hard to ensure that astronauts are well fed, comfortable(ish) and physically fit in space so they’re at tip-top condition. But their mental health is just as important. Read more on How VR and presence could positively impact astronauts’ mental health on long-term missions…

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Call: Game Studies Area: 2019 PCA/ACA National Conference

Call for Papers and Panels

Game Studies Area: 2019 PCA/ACA National Conference
April 17th through April 20th, 2019
Washington, DC

Submission deadline: October 1, 2018

The Game Studies area of the National Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association Conference invites proposals for papers and panels on games and game studies for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference to be held April 17th through April 20th, 2019 at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC.

The database for proposal submissions is now open.


The organizers seek proposals and papers covering all aspects of gaming, gaming culture and game studies.  Proposals can address any game medium (computer, social, console, tabletop, etc) and all theoretical and methodological approaches are welcome. Please see our facebook group at for our mission announcement.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • new game mediums and platforms
  • representation or performance of race, class, gender and sexuality in games
  • gaming culture, game specific cultures, and multicultural and cross-cultural issues
  • game development, design, authorship and other industry issues
  • game advertising, reviews, packaging, promotion, integrated marketing and other commercial concerns
  • political and legal entailments such as regulation, censorship, intellectual property
  • ludology, textual criticism, media ecology, narratology, etc as paradigms for games studies
  • player-generated content
  • game genres, platforms, consoles, console wars and connections to other media
  • serious games for education, business, healthcare, (military) training, etc
  • space and place in games, play spaces, virtual/physical communities, mobile gaming and localization
  • digital literacy, discourse practices, social norms and norming, the politics of play
  • public discourse/controversy over violence, militarism, sex, criminality, racism, etc in games
  • game pedagogy and classroom practices, gamification, learning as play

II. SUBMISSION PROCESS Read more on Call: Game Studies Area: 2019 PCA/ACA National Conference…

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I’m building a robot boyfriend – and you can, too

[This story from Quartz raises many important and (to me at least) fascinating issues regarding medium-as-social-actor presence. The original version includes more images and for more details see coverage in New Statesman and a plus. Mashable has a 3:07 minute video. –Matthew]

I’m building a robot boyfriend—and you can, too

Written by Fei Liu
April 24, 2018

Gabriel2052’s library of motor movements will know what I’m turned on by, his fingertips ghosting across the back of my neck with the right force-per-unit area. His motorized parts will know how to spread goosebumps across my skin, and his sensors will detect when my breath quickens in response. When we sleep, he will be a big spoon that will not sweat, take up too much space in the bed, or try to steal my pillows. His texting style will be quirky and offbeat—an amalgamation of all my exes’ message logs. When we are apart, his caresses will be embedded through haptics in my clothing so that I can still feel his touch close to my skin.

He is being made with open-source software and hardware, and his source code will be infinitely upgradable and distributable. I’m doing this so you too can one day build the love you deserve.

When I decided to build myself a robot boyfriend, I was caught in a series of brief, ill-defined, and painful relationships in New York and Germany. Growing up, I felt tricked by the movies I watched and the domestic bliss I witnessed among my friends, whose idyllic partnerships felt unattainable. My teenage unrequited love had turned into confused adulthood, and at times I found myself feeling ashamed of my wanting—and inability— to “find my other half.”

Creating Gabriel2052 is obviously technically challenging, but it’s ultimately a process within my control. He will become something—someone—I can form a lifelong bond with. Through bringing Gabriel2052 to life, I am investigating and confronting the ways in which technology and society create both harmful and uplifting narratives; the ones we’ve become complicit in during our search for love and understanding from others, and the world at large. Read more on I’m building a robot boyfriend – and you can, too…

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