ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

News stories explicitly or implicitly related to presence from a wide variety of sources

New tech turns portraits into photo-realistic videos of facial expressions

[The new technology described in this story from PetaPixel represents another expansion of presence illusions in our lives (and toward traversing the uncanny valley) – note the predicted applications for Facebook near the end. To watch many examples of the technology in action see the Supplementary Materials page of the project’s website. –Matthew]

Read more on New tech turns portraits into photo-realistic videos of facial expressions…

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Presence videos: “Goodbye Uncanny Valley” and “How David Fincher Steals Your Eyes”

[Two interesting presence-related videos are highlighted in recent entries in Jason Kottke‘s excellent kottke.org blog. The details are below… –Matthew]

Goodbye Uncanny Valley

Oct 17, 2017

[Also see the comments posted with the video on Vimeo. –Matthew]

Read more on Presence videos: “Goodbye Uncanny Valley” and “How David Fincher Steals Your Eyes”…

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VR as training ground for AI: Using spatial presence tech to enhance social/medium-as-social-actor presence

[This story from Forbes describes how a technology created to evoke spatial presence is being used to train artificial intelligence and thereby make agents and robots more competent and able to more effectively evoke social and medium-as-social-actor presence. –Matthew]

Virtual Reality is the Next Training Ground for Artificial Intelligence

Simon Solotko , Contributor
October 11, 2017

Virtual reality was imagined as a human simulation technology long before the most recent wave of innovation that brought us the Oculus RIFT and the wave of innovation that followed. Now, rendering high framerate graphics using multiple, stereoscopic points in virtual reality is matching the speed and accuracy of robotic sensors and cameras. By modeling physics, motion, and material interactions, virtual reality is poised to become a simulation tool for training automatons – robots, drones, and diagnostic gear – before they need to perform in the real world. That’s one small step for robotics, but it foretells a much bigger step forward for artificial intelligence.

Recent advancements point to a potentially disruptive combination of virtual reality and artificial intelligence which will unlock a future with safe and competent intelligent machines, able to learn exponentially through self training and intelligent, realistic simulations. Ongoing academic work in machine learning and virtual reality have been migrating to corporations and startups through open source initiatives and movement of skilled people through the academic, startup, and corporate workplaces. We are beginning to see how the mingling of these people and technologies might combine VR and machine learning to create a force more disruptive than either alone. Read more on VR as training ground for AI: Using spatial presence tech to enhance social/medium-as-social-actor presence…

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Curiscope’s Virtuali-Tee blends AR and VR to let you peek inside your own body

[The Virtuali-Tee looks like a clever use of technology to evoke presence for education and enjoyment. The story below is from Wired, where it features a different image. See the Curiscope website for more information including a video, and the company’s blog for information about Operation Apex; the book “All About Virtual Reality” is available from Amazon UK (not the US site as of this writing). –Matthew]

Take a peek inside your own body with this virtual reality app

Curiscope’s Virtuali-Tee blends augmented and virtual reality to let people explore a human chest cavity through a T-shirt

By Eleanor Peake
Sunday 15 October 2017

When it comes to augmented and virtual reality, Ed Barton has been there and got the T-shirt. His Brighton-based startup Curiscope produces The Virtuali-Tee, a garment printed with a stylised QR code that resembles a rib cage. Hover your phone over it, and using its app, you can explore the human chest cavity and peer at the heart, lungs and veins. “We use a mix of VR and AR to see inside the anatomy,” explains Barton, 28. “With positionally tracked AR, you can position VR experiences physically within your environment.” Curiscope has sold more than 3,000 Virtuali-Tees. Barton and co-founder Ben Kidd have raised almost $1 million (£780,000) in seed funding from LocalGlobe. Read more on Curiscope’s Virtuali-Tee blends AR and VR to let you peek inside your own body…

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How VR and presence could trick stroke victims’ brains toward recovery

[“If you give someone a healthy body in VR, will that help them recover their health?” Researchers at USC are investigating the potential of VR and presence to promote brain plasticity and recovery in stroke survivors, with encouraging early results. This story is from CNET; for more information including a 4:35 minute video see earlier coverage from USC News. –Matthew]

VR could trick stroke victims’ brains toward recovery

Researchers at the University of Southern California are examining how virtual reality could promote brain plasticity and recovery.

By Abrar Al-Heeti
October 15, 2017

Could virtual reality help stroke survivors regain motor function?

That’s a question Sook-Lei Liew is looking to answer.

Liew, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California and an affiliate of the Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute at the Keck School of Medicine, was inspired by research from Mel Slater and Jeremy Bailenson on embodiment in VR. If someone’s given a child’s body in VR, for example, they might start exhibiting more childlike behavior.

She wondered if giving stroke survivors with motor impairments a virtual avatar that moves properly could help promote brain plasticity (or the ability to change) and recovery. Maybe it would eventually lead to them to moving an impaired limb again. Read more on How VR and presence could trick stroke victims’ brains toward recovery…

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‘A virtual mum put me to bed’: A view from the VR future of film

[This piece from The Conversation describes a powerful presence experience (and uses the term) to highlight the differences between observing a story in “flat cinema” and living it in a genre of virtual reality called “reactive theatre.” The original version includes two videos. For more information see the Draw Me Close and Alice: The Virtual Reality Play websites. –Matthew]

‘A virtual mum put me to bed’: A view from the VR future of film

September 19, 2017
Victoria Mapplebeck, Reader in Digital Arts, Royal Holloway

I’ve just got back from the Venice Film Festival, which for the first time showcased an exciting programme of genre defining virtual reality (VR) film. I’m currently developing a VR project of my own and for the last two years have spent many an hour queuing up at film festivals and in art galleries to see how various directors from cinema, fine art and theatre have experimented with such a radical and shape shifting medium. I have seen many VR works, some good, some bad but enough to convince me that VR feels like the very early days of cinema, a time when filmmakers are learning the grammar, rather than writing the language, of VR.

One of the strongest works I experienced in Venice was Draw Me Close, a recent collaboration between the National Film Board of Canada and the UK’s National Theatre. This VR experience was created by playwright and filmmaker Jordan Tannahill and documents his relationship with his mother, both past and present, as the two of them deal with her terminal cancer diagnosis.

Draw Me Close is part of an evolving genre of “reactive theatre” in which the virtual journey is combined with a physical journey through a stage set in which real-life “reactive actors” (unseen by the user) interact with you throughout the experience. The sensory feedback you receive is a powerful part of the experience. When the virtual mum goes to hug you, you receive a real life hug from the “reactive actor” playing her. Read more on ‘A virtual mum put me to bed’: A view from the VR future of film…

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State of Remote Work 2017 report highlights importance of presence

[This ZDNet story and the (free) detailed, interactive report it describes and links to make clear that a large percentage of workers do now, or would like to, work remotely, and highlight the role of presence technologies and experiences in increasing the benefits and reducing the drawbacks of telework. –Matthew]

Companies that support remote work experience 25 percent lower employee turnover (and other findings)

A new survey shows the pros and cons of a distributed workforce.

By Greg Nichols for Robotics
October 4, 2017

Employees are more loyal if they’re allowed to work remotely.

That’s according to a new survey by hardware company Owl Labs, which makes teleconferencing solutions, and TINYPulse, which offers tools to conduct employee engagement surveys.

According to an Owl Labs spokesperson, the 2017 State of Remote Work report is one of the first of its kind “to analyze remote work’s impact on employee success and retention as well as manager-employee relationships.” The survey included responses from 1,097 US-based workers.

The big finding was that companies that allow remote work experience 25 percent lower employee turnover than companies that don’t support remote work. That runs counter to the idea that employee loyalty is tied to a physical presence in a central office. Read more on State of Remote Work 2017 report highlights importance of presence…

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Tales of the Wedding Rings VR provides vision for the future of comics

[An innovative new effort to bring static, black and white comics to VR is more evidence that presence does not require photorealism. This story from The Verge provides a quick summary and evaluation of the project. For more details see coverage in Rolling Stone; VR Scout, where the story notes that the creators “wanted to create that sense of presence that’s unique to VR”); and Road to VR, where the story features an 8:03 minute video. –Matthew]

Square Enix shows off its vision for the future of comics with virtual reality

And you can try it at NYCC

by Michael Moore
October 7, 2017

After a demonstration of the Oculus Dev Kit 1 in 2013, game developer and comic publisher Square Enix started work on a research project dubbed “Project Hikari.” The project was an attempt to adapt comics into virtual reality, by not just making something that look like it was a comic come to life, but also to explore what a VR comic means.

The company is demoing the project, Tales of the Wedding Rings VR — based on a Japanese comic of the same name minus “VR” — on the Oculus Rift at New York Comic Con this weekend.

Tales of the Wedding Rings VR is a non-interactive viewing experience in a virtual space. It’s not so much a virtual reality comic, but a VR 3D animated film framed as a comic. They do this by using the visual language of comics and how it conveys a narrative as a way to effectively guide the viewer.

Square Enix predominantly use these floating comic-like panels that the team calls “live panels.” While shaped and used like panels in a comic book, they allow them to frame and place shots of the scene and characters without the viewer moving at all. But inside those panels, everything is still three dimensional. Effectively the completely 360 virtual environments are only used to establish the setting of a scene, while the scene itself is played out in live panels. Read more on Tales of the Wedding Rings VR provides vision for the future of comics…

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Spielberg and Dreamscape Immersive to bring multi-person, tactile VR to AMC theaters

[Note how the author of this story from The Verge about a new, promising effort to popularize virtual reality describes the strong sense of presence he experienced in a recent demo without actually using the term presence. The original version includes another image and a 1:46 minute video.  –Matthew]

Hollywood and AMC theaters are betting on VR with Dreamscape Immersive

Steven Spielberg, Hans Zimmer, and director Gore Verbinski get into the game

by Bryan Bishop
September 26, 2017

The notion that virtual reality is going to be the next great storytelling medium has run into some bumps along the way. There’s still no real sense of what a great VR experience should actually be, and even less of an idea of how it can be turned into a viable business. Today, AMC Entertainment is announcing a partnership that will bring VR to its movie theaters starting in 2018, and its partner may be a key player in shaping what audiences will come to expect from virtual reality in the years to come.

That partner is Dreamscape Immersive, a Los Angeles-based startup that’s brought together Hollywood names like Steven Spielberg and producer Walter Parkes, all in the name of creating multi-person, room-scale VR stories and adventures. Under the deal, AMC will bring up to six of Dreamscape Immersive’s VR centers to both the United States and the UK over the next 18 months. Some of the centers will repurpose existing movie theaters, while others will be standalone installations. They will join Dreamscape’s flagship center, which is scheduled to open at the Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles in the first quarter of next year.

Location-based VR centers certainly aren’t a new idea. The Void has already set a standard for custom-built locations, and IMAX has begun rolling out its own VR arcades, utilizing more off-the-shelf games and experiences. Dreamscape aims to strike a kind of middle ground between the two, and an early demo I experienced recently in Los Angeles was impressive.

Dreamscape’s system utilizes motion-tracking technology developed by the Geneva, Switzerland-based foundation Artanim. The company’s work was shown off at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. It utilizes a head-mounted display, small sensors worn on the hands and feet, and a backpack computer along with a suite of motion-tracking cameras. The end result is a full-bodied digital avatar that the player can see within the VR environment. But more importantly, it’s a multi-person system, with Dreamscape’s eventual VR “theaters” able to accommodate between two and six people in a given experience. Read more on Spielberg and Dreamscape Immersive to bring multi-person, tactile VR to AMC theaters…

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Using VR and presence to help people experience and understand autism

[This press release from The Guardian announces a new virtual experience designed to help increase empathy and understanding of autism; for other similar efforts, see articles in the Times of Malta and Lovin Malta, and the UK’s National Autistic Society. –Matthew]

Guardian launches The Party – A virtual experience of autism

9 October 2017

The Guardian is pleased to announce the launch of The Party – A virtual experience of autism, the publisher’s latest virtual reality (VR) project.

The Party places viewers in the shoes of newly-diagnosed Layla, a 15-year old, autistic girl at her mother’s surprise birthday party. Through the dramatised piece, viewers experience Layla’s attempts to cope with a stressful situation using the coping mechanisms she has devised to manage her anxiety. Viewers also undergo the sensory and auditory overload that can be endured by autistic people in a challenging environment. Read more on Using VR and presence to help people experience and understand autism…

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