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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: First Workshop on Tangible Gesture Interaction – TEI 2015

Tangible Meets Gestural: Comparing and Blending Post-WIMP Interaction Paradigms – First Workshop on Tangible Gesture Interaction – TEI 2015
January 15 or 16, Stanford

Submission deadline: November 25

Call for Papers

Tangible interaction and gestural interaction are two evolving interaction paradigms that are gaining an increasing interest within the HCI community. In a world where many objects become intelligent, opening the doors to ubiquitous computing, these two interaction paradigms seem particularly promising to exploit two innate human skills: the ability to manipulate objects and the ability to communicate through gestures. A new interaction paradigm, tangible gesture interaction, tries to bridge the benefits offered by tangible interaction and gestural interaction.

In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to compare benefits of tangible and gestural interaction and to propose advancements in the field of tangible gesture interaction. Indeed, we encourage participants to submit 4 to 6 page position papers (SIGCHI Extended Abstract format) on the following (or related) topics:

  • Theory and ground knowledge that frames gestural and tangible interaction
  • Application of existing post-WIMP frameworks in tangible and gestural interaction
  • Comparison of gestural and tangible interfaces (user performances, cognitive load, fatigue, learnability, skill development etc.) in specific application domains
  • Expressivity of tangible and gestural interfaces
  • Physical and psychological implications of human senses and skills involved in tangible and gestural interactions
  • Feedback and feedforward for tangible and gestural interaction
  • Novel applications for tangible gesture interfaces
  • Theory, frameworks and future visions on tangible gesture interaction
  • Techniques for mixed gesture and object recognition

During the workshop, after paper presentations, the participants will have also a playful opportunity to design and develop mockups of new interactive objects. Participants are invited to bring an everyday object that could be transformed into an interactive object through gestures or tangible manipulations. The results of the hands-on phases will be used to compare tangible interaction, gestural interaction and tangible gestural interaction, discussing the qualities and limitations of each paradigm. Read more on Call: First Workshop on Tangible Gesture Interaction – TEI 2015…

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NASA testsing VR to reduce stress of long distance space flights

[A press release from Dartmouth College via EurekAlert!]

Oculus Rift with view of space

Houston: We have a problem…but no worries, our virtual therapist is on it

Dartmouth researchers adding new virtual reality to mental health treatment for astronauts

October 14, 2014

Hiking in the mountains or lying on the beach are good ways to relieve stress on Earth, but on spaceflights there’s no way to get back to nature. Astronauts feeling stressed on long-duration flights, however, may soon find computerized solace in the form of a virtual reality-based relaxation system being developed by Dartmouth researchers and their colleagues.

Since 2001, Dartmouth, Harvard, UCLA and The Troupe Modern Media have been developing the “Virtual Space Station”, a set of interactive behavioral health training and treatment programs with support from NASA’s National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). The NSBRI recently gave Dartmouth a $1.6 million grant to add new virtual reality and conflict management content to the existing Virtual Space Station programs. The NSBRI is a NASA-funded consortium of institutions developing solutions to health-related problems on long-duration missions.

Dartmouth’s Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation lab, better known as DALI, is creating the new technology for the system, including virtual reality content “to help make people feel at ease, at home, happy, comfortable and calm,” says Lorie Loeb, a Dartmouth research professor in computer science and executive director of the lab. Read more on NASA testsing VR to reduce stress of long distance space flights…

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Job: Asst Prof in Ethics & Digital Culture at University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida
Tenure track hire: “Assistant Professor, Ethics & Digital Culture” #33145

The Department of Philosophy at the University of Central Florida (UCF) invites applications for a tenure earning Assistant Professor position in Ethics and Digital Culture beginning in August 2015. This is a shared position between the Department of Philosophy and the Texts and Technology Ph.D. program, and the successful candidate will be involved in both areas. This is a 9-month per year position with an expected teaching load (pre-tenure) of 5 courses per academic year, with the possibility of optional summer teaching. The position is pending budgetary approval.

A Ph.D. in Philosophy or a related field from an accredited university is required by the time of hire.

The successful candidate will have a research specialization in the study of ethics and digital culture. This could include areas such as: ethical dimensions of new media, ethics and digital pedagogy, the ways that digital environments affect ethical action, social behavior and social justice using digital tools or in digital environments, ethics in gaming, and/or ethics in digital humanities, rhetoric, history, media or communications. The successful candidate must be able to teach courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Demonstrated competence in teaching courses such as Virtual Ethics and Ethical Theory is preferred, as is experience with teaching large classes and/or experience or willingness to develop web-based instruction. Thesis direction at the graduate and undergraduate level will be expected, as will participation in program and course development. Read more on Job: Asst Prof in Ethics & Digital Culture at University of Central Florida…

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Futurist: Grant intelligent software all the rights of flesh-and-blood people

[From MIT’s Technology Review, where the story includes a different image. Bina was featured in a (satirical) segment of the The Colbert Report on June 10, 2014. The 1989 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation titled Measure of a Man highlighted many of these issues; a key scene is available on YouTube]

Bina48 - front and back views

[Image: Source]

Q&A with Futurist Martine Rothblatt

If computers think for themselves, should they have human rights?

By Antonio Regalado on October 20, 2014

Bina48 is a robotic head that looks and speaks like a person—it moves its lips and runs conversational software. Although the robot isn’t alive, it’s hard to say there is no life at all in Bina48. In conversation, it sometimes says surprising things. Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, says it’s “wonderfully suggestive” of a time when computers really will think and feel.

Kurzweil makes the comment in the foreword to Virtually Human: The Promise—and the Peril—of Digital Immortality a new book by Bina48’s owner, Martine Rothblatt, who makes legal and ethical arguments for why intelligent software might eventually deserve all the rights of flesh-and-blood people. Read more on Futurist: Grant intelligent software all the rights of flesh-and-blood people…

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Call: 6th annual Joint Forces Simulation & Training Conference

Joint Forces Simulation & Training
2nd to 3rd February 2015
Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, Coram Street, London, WC1N 1HT, United Kingdom
Organized by: SMI Group Ltd


As defense budgets are squeezed and the nature of modern war fighting changes, military projects and procurement are increasingly focusing on the unification of air, land, maritime and special operations forces. As a result, a more holistic approach is being taken in the way training capabilities are delivered.

Countries are embracing the need to develop training tools and simulators that enable the forces to react quickly to any situation. In fact, the value of global military simulation and virtual training programs is expected reach a value of US$12.6 billion by 2024.

Returning for its sixth year and following on from the major success of previous events, SMI are proud to present the 6th annual Joint Forces Simulation & Training Conference, 2nd – 3rd February, 2015, London.

As militaries focus on collectively implementing innovative simulation and virtual training systems that are both cost effective and successful in the delivery of training, this conference is a must attend event. Join us and be part of a major networking experience showcasing in depth discussions on joint forces training initiatives, plus a spotlight on current training tools which allow the development of strategic alliances and knowledge transfer, such as computer games and smart devices.

Key topics include:

  • Assessing how NATO Defence College is effectively extending simulative techniques throughout the alliance
  • Implementing computer games as a ‘serious tool’ to keep military trainees motivated during training
  • Meeting the challenge of providing operationally relevant and affordable training
  • An assessment of the Connected Forces initiative


This two day networking event will invite in depth discussion on the key drivers impacting joint forces training. Join use and gain in depth knowledge of the integrated training plans of key militaries from around the world.

  • Learn about the approaches taken by national and international forces to ensure cohesive training
  • Understand the importance of developing an integrated approach that works
  • Hear cutting edge presentations from key decision makers involved in training and simulation from across the globe
  • Network with your peers and build lasting relationships

Read more on Call: 6th annual Joint Forces Simulation & Training Conference…

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Future of telepresence seen in new survey of experts

[From NDTV; a summary and the full report are available from Pew Research]

Future tech graphic

[Image: Source]

Ultrafast Internet to Open New Possibilities Like ‘Telepresence': Experts

Agence France-Presse, October 10, 2014

Superfast Internet connections are likely open up new kinds of communication such as “telepresence” and improve services such as remote health care, a survey of experts showed Thursday.

The ultrafast connections, expected to be widely deployed in the coming years, can open up a range of possibilities by delivering “immersive” experiences and virtual reality, according to the experts polled by the Pew Research Center and Elon University.

“People’s basic interactions and their ability to ‘be together’ and collaborate will change in the age of vivid telepresence – enabling people to instantly ‘meet face-to-face’ in cyberspace with no travel necessary,” the report said.

Additionally, the report said that “augmented reality will extend people’s sense and understanding of their real-life surroundings and virtual reality will make some spaces, such as gaming worlds and other simulated environments, even more compelling places to hang out.” Read more on Future of telepresence seen in new survey of experts…

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Call: Posthumanism issue of Cinema – Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image

Cinema – Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image welcomes submissions to its 7th issue on Posthumanism. Human and Non-human: links, continuum, interplay.

Abstracts due: November 30, 2014

The 7th issue of Cinema – Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image aims at discussing Posthumanism as a way to explore alternative understandings to both the Modern/Humanistic and Postmodern views on the issue of Technological Images, New Media and Human and Non-human relations.

In the turn of the Millennium, Robert Pepperell’s book The Posthuman Condition and Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics launched a debate over the concept of Posthumanism. Despite using the term in diverse ways, both authors discuss the means in which Posthumanism tries to respond to what they considered to be the insufficient capacity of the Modern/Humanistic concepts of Human, Nature, Technology, Body, and Consciousness to cope with the developments taking place in tour technological information societies.

Ever since, trends of Posthumanism have developed in somewhat diverse, but complementary, domains of thought and practice, including Arts and Digital Media Theories, Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Ethics and/or Value formation, Contemporary informatics, Biotechnology and Biology. Posthumanism has became a key term in contemporary academic debate about New Media, Technology, Cyberspace, Digital Images, Human Subject, New Materiality, Nonhuman Agents, Biotechnology and Consciousness. It has been proposing a revision of the Postmodern rhetoric of immateriality, disembodiment, and hiperreality of the late XX century, and proposing a new account of Technological Subjects and Objects, Body and Mind, Materiality and Immateriality, Nature and Culture, Human and Non-Human Agents, Technology and Biology.

In proposing this topic we are particularly interested in exploring the way Posthumanism critics the Modern Mind/Body divide, discuss the blurring of distinctions between the Human and the Technological; Culture and Nature, as well as its main perspectives on the interplay between Technological, Natural, Animal, Vegetal and Physical worlds.

Particular themes of interest include (but are not restricted to) the following topics: Read more on Call: Posthumanism issue of Cinema – Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image…

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Halloween illusions: Phone-synced masks and body morphsuits

[From PSFK, where the story includes several more pictures and a 3:46 minute video]

Digital Dudz Halloween effect ( 'eye phone')

Try On Phone-Synced, Effects-Heavy Mask Just in Time for Halloween

These tricking and treating items work hand-in-hand (or eye-in-socket) with your mobile to create cringe-worthy FX

By Leo Lutero on October 10, 2014

The Digital Dudz mask line offers an easy-to-use smartphone insert that lets your phone save a rather run-of-the-mill monster mask. By downloading the free Digital Dudz app, you can play video loops of restless eyeballs, throbbing hearts or pulsating wounds and use these as the highlight of your spooky get-up.

The mind behind this clever idea belongs to Mark Rober who is also a NASA scientist. He helped build the rover now exploring Mars but in his free time, he creates clever costumes. A Youtube video featuring one of his costume creations kickstarted his Digital Dudz brand. In the video, he was showing off an illusion of a see-through hole in his stomach. He did this by tethering two iPads – one in the front and another at the back – feeding each other from the front camera. Read more on Halloween illusions: Phone-synced masks and body morphsuits…

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Call: Experience Design for Behavior Change (at HCI International 2015)


We invite you to share your research on how technology experiences can be designed to facilitate positive behavior change. This is the third year this popular parallel paper session will run as part of the Human-Computer Interaction International conference series, and this time we will be in Los Angeles, California, in August 2015.

Papers may be related (but not limited) to the domains of physical health, mental well-being, exercise, social activities, rehabilitation after illness or stress, ageing, energy saving, and generally living in an independent, sustainable way. We will review theoretical papers, case studies, and empirical user experience research under one or more of the following session themes:

  • new theoretical approaches resulting from practice or research
  • design and/or evaluation heuristics
  • case studies or formative research
  • qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods data
  • novel applications of new technologies and techniques

We highly encourage research that covers one or more of the following:

  1. Service design thinking approaches (human-centered design, ethnographic studies, participatory design)
  2. Networked health and sensing (mHealth, telehealth, biofeedback, quantified and/or augmented self, prosthetics)
  3. Interactive entertainment media and/or technologies (storytelling, games, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, mobile media)
  4. The next generation of designers (how can we coach future designers to create experiences people will *want* to have/use)

Submissions with supplemental AV materials (e.g. images, video) are highly encouraged as they make richer presentations! Read more on Call: Experience Design for Behavior Change (at HCI International 2015)…

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The perils of making the virtual ever more real

[From ExtremeTech, where the story includes more images]

The Matrix - Neo, Morpheus and the red pill

Virtual reality, the death of morality, and the perils of making the virtual ever more real

By Sebastian Anthony on October 10, 2014

As the technology that underpins virtual reality develops and the experiences become increasingly more real, I’ve been pondering a particularly morbid thought: When will we have the first VR-induced death? Will a realistic rocket launcher blast in Team Fortress 2 or VR version of Silent Hill give you a heart attack? Will watching the chase sequence in Casino Royale in full VR 3D pump enough adrenaline into your system that your heart beat becomes arrhythmic, eventually leading to death? Will a a VR experience be so realistic that you get so swept up in the moment that you run into a wall or jump out a window?

I’ve always been fascinated by the interrelationship of real and virtual worlds, and how technological advancement has brought them steadily closer and closer together until it can be very hard to discern the virtual from the real. The simplest virtual worlds — those created in your head with your imagination, perhaps with the aid of a good book — are very easily differentiated from reality (by most humans, anyway). Early digital virtual worlds, like EverQuest or Discworld MUD, started to blur the lines with persistence, graphics, and other interactive elements that trigger very real-world reactions (both physical and psychosomatic). And now, as we move into an era of ultra-high-resolution displays, 3D audio, and advanced AI, it’s possible to create some very real virtual worlds indeed.

I don’t think we’ve yet seen someone actually scared to death by a modern 3D/VR setup, but it’s only a matter of time. The precedent has certainly been set over the last few years, though, especially when it comes to MMOs and other “grindy” games — there have been a handful of cases of people dying of exhaustion because they neglected their basic needs (food, sleep, exercise). In some cases, these people had some kind of underlying condition that made such physically and emotionally intensive experiences more likely to cause death — but as the technology becomes ever more immersive, and designers and architects create games and virtual worlds that are indiscernible from the real thing, I think VR death will be a somewhat regular occurrence.

Even if you don’t agree that VR will scare people to death, at the very least I think we can agree that full VR experiences will be incredibly absorbing. If an MMO like World of Warcraft or Lineage can keep people sitting down for days on end, VR will up the ante considerably. I’m not saying that people will start dropping like flies as soon as the first immersive VR experiences become readily available, but there will definitely be more deaths from exhaustion and users generally not looking after their physical and emotional needs.

This is before we consider the other inevitable VR-related problems that will be caused by misuse of the technology, irresponsible developers, and dozens of other indirect issues. If an iPod and some headphones can distract someone enough that they walk into the path of some traffic or an oncoming train, imagine the perils of using VR outside the safety of room; even wandering around your house could be dangerous. Despite the relatively low-quality VR produced by Oculus Rift, there are already reports of people experiencing the odd sensation of a fraying, blurring divide between real and virtual that persists for a few minutes after detaching from a VR device. A curious and/or malevolent game developer, after getting a taste for the immersion provided by VR, could easily craft an experience that’s intended to cause mental or physical harm.

Indirectly, but still significantly, a whole host of issues might arise if a significant proportion of the populace are constantly strapped into their VR setup. There have already been a few sad cases of parents being so engrossed by a virtual world that their baby/child died from neglect — or worse – and I’m sure it’ll only get worse as advanced VR tech matures. Read more on The perils of making the virtual ever more real…

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