ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

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

Stanford Medicine using VR of patient brains to help surgeons, reassure patients

[This story from Stanford Medicine is about the powerful benefits of using data from brain scans to create presence experiences for neurology patients and surgeons. –Matthew]

[Image: The virtual reality system is helping train residents, assist surgeons in planning upcoming operations and educate patients. It also helps surgeons in the operating room, guiding them in a three-dimensional space. Credit: Paul Sakuma]

Virtual reality system helps surgeons, reassures patients

Stanford Medicine is using a new software system that combines imaging from MRIs, CT scans and angiograms to create a three-dimensional model that physicians and patients can see and manipulate — just like a virtual reality game.

July 11, 2017
By Mandy Erickson
Mandy Erickson is a freelance writer and editor.

Having undergone two aneurysm surgeries, Sandi Rodoni thought she understood everything about the procedure. But when it came time for her third surgery, the Watsonville, California, resident was treated to a virtual reality trip inside her own brain.

Stanford Medicine is using a new software system that combines imaging from MRIs, CT scans and angiograms to create a three-dimensional model that physicians and patients can see and manipulate — just like a virtual reality game.

After donning a headset connected to the VR system, Rodoni could clearly see the ballooning blood vessel, as well as the spot where her neurosurgeon, Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, would place a clip to repair it. “Because I had been through this before, I thought I knew it all until I saw this,” she said. “I felt better knowing it was so clear to the doctor.”

Created by the Colorado startup Surgical Theater, the VR system is helping train residents, assist surgeons in planning upcoming operations and educate patients. It also helps surgeons in the operating room, guiding them in a three-dimensional space.

For the residents, class is held in a room in the hospital basement. Under low lighting, and surrounded by three massive screens, the residents settle into reclining chairs complete with drink holders — all promising a comfortable ride inside the human skull.

Once the residents don headsets, an instructor — who shows up as an avatar in a white coat — can lead them inside the brain of a patient. The system allows instructors to highlight different components of the brain, such as arteries to show an aneurysm, bones to show skull deformities or tissue to show a tumor, while rotating the view to illustrate how a tumor or aneurysm looks from different angles. They can also progress, as avatars, through the steps for removing a tumor or fixing an aneurysm, starting outside the skull. Read more on Stanford Medicine using VR of patient brains to help surgeons, reassure patients…

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Researchers use VR to give self-driving cars human ethics

[This story from The Register describes a research program that involves the use of spatial presence via VR to develop ethical guidelines for the behavior of self-driving cars that evoke medium-as-social-actor presence; note the conclusion in the last paragraph that how the cars make these life-and-death choices needs to be transparent for consumers to accept the new technology. –Matthew]

New work: Algorithms to give self-driving cars ‘impulsive’ human ‘ethics’

It’s just preliminary research, don’t freak out

By Andrew Silver
5 July 2017

In a version of the infamous Trolley Problem, you’re sitting in a runaway train on a fatal collision course with five people. You can flip a switch to change tracks, but on the other track you’d still kill one person.

Now change the numbers, who the people are, pretend the trolley drives itself, and welcome to the crazy world of the ethics of self-driving vehicles.

In new research appearing in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, psychologists have modelled some basic human driver’s ethical decisions. They believe the models are an important, early step towards formalizing ethical decision making for self-driving cars. Read more on Researchers use VR to give self-driving cars human ethics…

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Fake news evolves: Algorithms that generate convincing audio-video of fake events

[The technology described in this story from The Economist represents a dark side of presence illusions, a tool to support the increasingly blatant and shameless promotion of false claims about facts and events. On the positive side, the story notes several ways of countering the danger. –Matthew]

 

Fake news: you ain’t seen nothing yet

Generating convincing audio and video of fake events

Print edition | Science and technology
July 1st 2017

Earlier this year Françoise Hardy, a French musician, appeared in a YouTube video (see link). She is asked, by a presenter off-screen, why President Donald Trump sent his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to lie about the size of the inauguration crowd. First, Ms Hardy argues. Then she says Mr Spicer “gave alternative facts to that”. It’s all a little odd, not least because Françoise Hardy (pictured), who is now 73, looks only 20, and the voice coming out of her mouth belongs to Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Mr Trump.

The video, called “Alternative Face v1.1”, is the work of Mario Klingemann, a German artist. It plays audio from an NBC interview with Ms Conway through the mouth of Ms Hardy’s digital ghost. The video is wobbly and pixelated; a competent visual-effects shop could do much better. But Mr Klingemann did not fiddle with editing software to make it. Instead, he took only a few days to create the clip on a desktop computer using a generative adversarial network (GAN), a type of machine-learning algorithm. His computer spat it out automatically after being force fed old music videos of Ms Hardy. It is a recording of something that never happened.

Mr Klingemann’s experiment foreshadows a new battlefield between falsehood and veracity. Faith in written information is under attack in some quarters by the spread of what is loosely known as “fake news”. But images and sound recordings retain for many an inherent trustworthiness. GANs are part of a technological wave that threatens this credibility. Read more on Fake news evolves: Algorithms that generate convincing audio-video of fake events…

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Theoriz recreates the Holodeck with AR tech and projectors

[The mixed reality room described in this Engadget story looks like it creates compelling presence illusions (a Mashable video says it “could have you questioning what’s reality”). See the original story for two videos including the 3:11 minute demo video mentioned (also available on Vimeo). For more, see the Theoriz website and Vimeo page, and a related post from February 2016 in ISPR Presence News. –Matthew]

Théoriz recreates the Holodeck with AR tech and projectors

A French company has created a new kind of dramatic, Illumiroom-like reality.

Steve Dent
June 28, 2017

If you had to list the most mind-blowing tech demos in recent memory, Microsoft’s Hololens AR headset would need to be included, as would its projector-enhanced Illumiroom. A company called Théoriz from Lyon, France has married both of those things to create a “mixed reality room” that uses projector tech, motion tracking and augmented reality together. Its latest technology demo video made it seem like we’re closer to Star Trek‘s Holodeck than ever before, so we went to take a closer look. Read more on Theoriz recreates the Holodeck with AR tech and projectors…

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Is it unethical to design robots to resemble humans?

[This story from Quartz succinctly lays out the key ethical questions raised by medium-as-social-actor presence; the answers depend on our understanding of human nature and the malleability of our behavior. The emphasis is on the peril rather than promise – the author doesn’t say much about the potential advantages of human-like technologies (which include for me, the reduced likelihood of my damaging them in a fleeting moment of anger). The original version of the story includes two videos. –Matthew]

[Image: Would you punch a printer? What if it looked like you? (Office Space/20th Century Fox)]

Is it unethical to design robots to resemble humans?

By David Ryan Polgar
June 22, 2017
More from Quartz: Machines with Brains

Three men deliver an endless assault of kicks as the victim lies motionless on the grass. With venom in their eyes, one of the perpetrators delivers a crushing blow with a wooden bat. Another gets down on his knees and delivers a flurry of fists.

The printer is dead. Plastic parts and microchips are strewn across the ground.

So goes the scene in Mike Judge’s cult classic film Office Space, which is a cathartic release from the constant indignities of the modern worker. The printer is a source of chagrin for its regular paper-jam notifications and its inability to properly communicate with its human users. There is no trigger to feel compassion toward this inanimate object: It is only a machine, made of plastic, and filled with microchips and wires. When the printer met its demise, the audience felt only joy.

But what if this brutal assault had been on a human-looking machine that had cried out to its attackers for mercy? If instead of a benign-looking printer, it was given a name and human characteristics? Would we still mindlessly attack it? Would we feel differently?

As technology progresses from inanimate objects governed by numbers to human-looking machines controlled with conversations, it raises questions as to the compassion owed to artificial intelligence—and each other. Read more on Is it unethical to design robots to resemble humans?…

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Japanese men are marrying Anime characters in VR weddings

[As this story from Digit notes, using VR for human-human weddings is one thing but using it for human-virtual character weddings is quite another. The original story includes other images and two videos; for background see coverage in RocketNews24; for more details about the ceremony see coverage in VR Scout (where the story says 100 men have participated); and for a story about a man who married his smartphone in Las Vegas in 2016, see Oddity Central. –Matthew]

Read more on Japanese men are marrying Anime characters in VR weddings…

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Sex robots promise ‘revolutionary’ service but also risks, says study

[Complex ethical and other challenging issues related to medium-as-social-actor presence are raised in a new report from the Foundation for Responsible Robotics (FRR). This story is from The Guardian, where it features a 16:25 minute video; for more information see coverage by BBC News, which includes several links and a 1:46 audio clip. –Matthew]

[Image: Catalan nanotechnology engineer Sergi Santos holds the head of Samantha, a sex doll packed with artificial intelligence providing her the capability to respond to different scenarios and verbal stimulus, in his house in Rubi, north of Barcelona, Spain, March 31, 2017. Source: REUTERS/Albert Gea]

Sex robots promise ‘revolutionary’ service but also risks, says study

Androids could offer valuable help to the elderly and disabled but may lead to the increased objectification of women

Haroon Siddique
Tuesday 4 July 2017

Sex robots have the potential to provide a valuable service for people who are elderly, disabled or who find intercourse traumatic, but they also carry ethical risks, experts say.

Sex robots that look like humans can already be bought or leased for parties in the US, and plans for a cafe staffed by “erotic cyborgs” in Paddington, London, have been mooted.

The authors behind the Foundation for Responsible Robotics’ (FRR) report, published on Wednesday, believe they could herald a “revolution” in sex, helping people who would otherwise find it hard to have intimate relationships.

But they also raise concerns that sex robots could increase the objectification of women, alter perceptions of consent and be used to satisfy desires that would otherwise be illegal. Read more on Sex robots promise ‘revolutionary’ service but also risks, says study…

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Queen will rock you in ‘VR The Champions’

[Queen’s Brian May is a VR innovator and the rock group has launched a new 3-song virtual concert film, as detailed in this short story from Digital Trends. Follow the VRTGO link for a preview and for more information (including two videos, one with May discussing his Owl VR kit, and a comment from Morton Heilig) see coverage from last year in Music Ally. And for even more, see a story in Creators about the earlier Bohemian Rhapsody Experience, available for IOS and Android.  –Matthew]

Queen Will Rock You in Virtual Reality Concert Film ‘VR The Champions’

By Brad Jones
Posted on July 3, 2017

For more than 40 years, Queen has been one of the biggest rock acts around, selling out shows all around the world. Now, fans can experience a live performance by the band as never before, thanks to the release of a new virtual reality concert film dubbed VR the Champions.

The performance was recorded at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi in May 2016, and features singer Adam Lambert in lieu of the band’s legendary original frontman Freddie Mercury. Queen perform some of their best and most beloved songs, including We Will Rock You, Radio Ga Ga, and — of course — We Are the Champions.

VR the Champions gives fans the opportunity to experience the show via 360-degree video, hovering above the audience and even flying among the band themselves as they perform on stage. It was shot in stereoscopic 4K, using a full-sphere surround sound technique known as ambisonic audio to make sure that the sound is just as immersive as the visuals. Read more on Queen will rock you in ‘VR The Champions’…

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How telepresence is being used to enhances the U.S. justice system

[This story from StateTech is about another context in which presence is having important positive impacts. For more details see CDW’s expanded version and an earlier story in StateTech. –Matthew]

3 Ways Connected Courtrooms Enhance the Justice System

Telepresence and collaboration tools don’t just streamline justice delivery, they also connect those in the system to families, bail options and more.

By StateTech Staff
June 28, 2017

Anytime deputies have a chance to avoid transporting an inmate from a jail cell to an external location, it may mean fewer risks for all involved. For instance, less contraband could be coming in. If there’s foul weather, there’s less of an opportunity for a crash. Sheriff’s offices don’t have to tie up personnel moving people back and forth. And escape attempts are less likely.

A growing number of counties, states and municipalities rely on tech solutions to facilitate virtual court appearances. In addition to reducing the chances of a security breach or other incident, these tools are helping governments save money on transportation, provide remote access to interpreters, deliver services to inmates and allow public attorneys to share and access documents.

“It’s crystal clear technology,” says Joseph G. Mangano, senior business development strategist for public safety in state and local government at CDW. “You can see how the person looks, how they’re acting, how they react to a question. It’s like you’re right there.”

While such tools have been available for years, they have been out of reach for many agencies, especially smaller court systems that lacked the resources to invest in on-premises solutions. However, that changed in late 2015, when CDW partnered with Cisco Systems to offer subscription services to cloud-base telepresence for law enforcement agencies and court systems. Today, the IT networks at many of these organizations are beginning to catch up with demand, finally making the benefits of telepresence available to a wider range of organizations within the justice system.

“The technology is much better now, and we’ve been able to reduce some of the hardware costs,” Mangano says. “I think we’re still on the introductory curve. We’re seeing more telepresence devices in courtrooms, but we’re also seeing mobile devices coming into play.” Read more on How telepresence is being used to enhances the U.S. justice system…

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Digital humanities VR site takes you into poet John Ashbery’s home to understand his work

[This story from Yale News describes a project designed to evoke presence to help users better understand the poet John Ashbery and the inspiration for his work; for more information and the link to the website (when it launches July 1), see the project’s web page. –Matthew]

[Image: Award-winning poet John Ashbery stands outside his Victorian home in this screenshot taken from a new Digital Humanities Lab project. John Ashbery’s “Nest” takes visitors on a virtual tour inside of his house, and invites them to “walk” through the spaces that the poet inhabits to learn about the objects that have provided the inspiration for many of his works.]

New virtual reality site creates a ‘sonic collage’ of esteemed poet John Ashbery’s works

By Elizabeth Connolly Martell
June 29, 2017

In many of his poems, John Ashbery endeavors to create for his readers the feeling of home. A new Digital Humanities Lab project takes that one step further — by creating a website that takes visitors on a virtual tour inside Ashbery’s house, and invites them to “walk” through the spaces that the acclaimed poet inhabits and learn about the objects that have provided the inspiration for many of his award-winning works. Read more on Digital humanities VR site takes you into poet John Ashbery’s home to understand his work…

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