ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

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

Is virtual reality the future of clubbing?

[This story from Highsnobiety includes interesting comparisons of the real and virtual versions of clubbing (“the boundaries between URL and IRL [are getting] increasingly pixelated”); the original story includes two more images and a 1:15 interactive preview video (which viewed on YouTube leads to other full-length videos). –Matthew]

Is Virtual Reality the Future of Clubbing?

By Bianca Giulione
April 11, 2017

Since its creation in 2011, Boiler Room has become nearly synonymous with underground dance music. Often a rite of passage for musicians and enthusiasts alike, it has invariably changed the way dance music is consumed. Having been to my first IRL Boiler Room back in 2013 when it was still quite a novel concept, I recall the sheer joy of loading up on free drinks from whichever alcohol brand was the sponsor and getting extremely wavy with my friends, knowing homies who didn’t make the guest list would be watching and commenting away at our livestreamed debauchery in the chatroom (R.I.P., but good riddance, honestly).

Fast forward four years and I’m sitting in Berlin’s Arena Club strapping a Google Pixel powered Daydream VR headset to my head for Boiler Room’s first-ever VR experience. Up until this point, my brushes with virtual reality were limited to this weird virtual hang gliding game at my local arcade growing up, and a stomach-churning free fall from a plane on one of the first Oculus Rift headsets. Daydream is nothing of that sort. It’s not clunky and cold; it looks as if it’s cut from the same cloth as your favorite pair of sweatpants. If the singularity is nigh, that is, if artificial superintelligence is about to trigger changes to human civilization we can’t even imagine, at least it’ll be cute and cozy.

We’re told we have 10 minutes to explore the 15-minute virtual reality film, and that we’ll be tapped on the shoulder when our time is up. I press play and I’m immediately transported to a VR version of the same room we’re currently in. Techno trio FJAAK begins their set, configured in a triangle in front of racks of analog synths. I turn my head, surrounded by enthusiastic Berlin partygoers who seem familiar. They’re chatting, doing the Berlin techno 2-step, rolling cigarettes — party business as usual. Aside from the fact that the bodies are slightly translucent, they seem quite real. Read more on Is virtual reality the future of clubbing?…

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Disney seeks new patent for soft robots playing characters

[Some of the coverage of this new Disney patent application for soft robots at its theme parks, which are sure to evoke medium-as-social-actor presence, refers playfully to the HBO series Westworld. This story is from the Orlando Sentinel; see also earlier information from Disney Research. The patent application is available from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. –Matthew]

[Image: Source: The Kingdom Insider]

Disney seeks new patent for soft robots playing characters

Paul Brinkmann
April 7, 2017

Soft-body robots could someday be roaming Disney theme parks, playing animated, humanoid movie characters and interacting with visitors.

A new patent application by the entertainment giant doesn’t name specific characters, but it describes “designing a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.”

A prototype sketch filed with the patent application shows a round body, echoing the shape of the Baymax soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 movie “Big Hero 6.” The application, and theme park observers, say the big issue for robotic interaction is safety. The document, dated Thursday, shows Disney research scientists in Pittsburgh have worked on prototypes identified only as “soft body 300” or “soft body 1000.” Read more on Disney seeks new patent for soft robots playing characters…

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Ford puts babies to sleep with car-simulating cradle

[Technology is being used to create and recreate all kinds of experiences; this story from New Atlas is about how Ford has recreated the sleep-inducing experience of a car ride home for babies (much of the coverage asks about an adult version!). The original story includes a gallery of 14 images and a 1:39 minute video; the press release is available from Ford; and coverage by Engadget mentions a related product: “The Snoo smart sleeper mimics the sounds of a mother’s womb while keeping a baby from rolling over into a dangerous position. It also has built-in microphones so you can monitor you child from the next room and it can gently rock a little one to sleep.” –Matthew]

[Image: The pulsating lights simulate the passing streetlights]

Ford puts babies to sleep with car-simulating cradle

C.C. Weiss
April 7, 2017

It’s a phenomenon that many parents know well. The infant who just won’t go to sleep at night, in a warm, cozy haven of slumber, will nod off in the car as if the subject of a master hypnotist. It doesn’t matter that the engine’s rumbling, bumps and potholes rattling the chassis, horns blaring outside … baby’s fast asleep. This fact can sometimes motivate desperate 3 a.m. car laps around the block, but Ford has a better idea: a baby bed that mimics the feeling, sound and light of riding in a car.

In a nice little piece of advertising that highlights one timeless bond between car and family, Ford and partners have developed what they call the Max Motor Dreams cot. If it works as designed, many new parents might call it “godsend.” Read more on Ford puts babies to sleep with car-simulating cradle…

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Study: Seeing yourself on screen during video conference hurts performance, satisfaction

[This story from the CBC describes a study of the effects of seeing oneself on screen during a video conference; although not discussed directly, presence logically plays a role in the distraction effect that such images, which aren’t available during face-to-face communication, seem to create for technology users. –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters]

How a sticky note could make you more productive at work

Seeing yourself on-screen during a video conference can distract from the job at hand

By Dan Misener, CBC Radio technology columnist
Apr 04, 2017

Video chat apps like Skype and FaceTime make it easy to connect with friends, family and colleagues across long distances. But new research suggests that video chat in the workplace can hurt your performance on the job.

What part of video chat may be hurting my job performance?

In video chat apps — like Skype, Google Hangouts or FaceTime — you get to see the people on the other end of the call. But you also see yourself, off to the side or down in the corner in a small window.

If you stop and think about it, the ability to see yourself in a meeting is kind of unusual. In a face-to-face meeting, you can’t see yourself. Researchers at Marquette University in Wisconsin wanted to know: Is the ability to see yourself during a video call a good thing or a bad thing? Or, as assistant professor of management Martin Hassell puts it: “How does someone seeing their own video feed affect their communication?”

In other words, Hassell and his colleagues wanted to find out if seeing your own video feed has a measurable impact on teamwork, collaboration or job performance. Read more on Study: Seeing yourself on screen during video conference hurts performance, satisfaction…

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Doing your bills is painful. Virtual reality could make it less so

[Here’s another (somewhat surprising) application area for presence… This story is from USA Today, where it features two more images. –Matthew]

[Image: Using VR glasses to visualize finances. (Photo: Amy Sussman, AP Images for Intuit Quickbooks)]

Doing your bills is painful. Virtual reality could make it less so

Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY
Published April 5, 2017

NEW YORK—You stare into the bathroom mirror while shaving and ask aloud, “Who owes me money?” A moment later a graph appears on the surface of the mirror revealing the people or companies that owe you, or your small business, the loot.

A prototype of just such a smart mirror was among the futuristic scenarios showcased by Intuit during a recent Manhattan event demonstrating how current and emerging tech could be employed to help business owners and individuals manage their finances. Various demos touched on virtual and mixed reality, chatbots, facial recognition, blockchain (the underpinning for Bitcoin), machine learning and artificial intelligence. Read more on Doing your bills is painful. Virtual reality could make it less so…

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Virry VR takes you on safari with PlayStation VR

[The new virtual safari experience for PlayStation VR described in this short story from Push Square is a good example of how presence can give us vivid experiences we normally wouldn’t be able to have and change our perceptions of the world in the process; in the more detailed press release at PR Newswire, our colleague Jeremy Bailenson “predict[s] this project will be a huge success in motivating people to learn more about nature and ecosystems.” The Push Square story includes a 4:40 minute video of gameplay and a 3:00 minute video introduction is available on the Virry VR website. –Matthew]

Read more on Virry VR takes you on safari with PlayStation VR…

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Dementia patients using robots, virtual reality to engage

[Aside from the very positive applications of presence it discusses, I like this story from Australia’s ABC because it brings together presence that results from mediated environments (VR) and social technologies (robots). The original story includes a 1:16 minute video and more pictures. –Matthew]

[Image: Colin Farmer plays rock, scissors, paper with Alice the robot. ABC News: Rebecca Turner]

Dementia patients using robots, virtual reality to engage

By Rebecca Turner
Sun April 2, 2017

High-tech tools, like humanoid robots and virtual reality are transforming the lives of people living in Australian dementia care facilities.

The technology — used to engage, entertain and encourage social interaction — is bringing the residents out of their shells.

In the process, it is dispelling any notion that age and cognitive impairment are a barrier to embracing technology. Read more on Dementia patients using robots, virtual reality to engage…

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Boston College class creates Joycestick, Ulysses adapted as an immersive, 3D VR game

[This story from BC News discusses a variety of potential benefits of adapting literature for new presence-evoking technologies. The original version includes two more images and a 3:45 minute video. For more information see –Matthew]

‘Grand and preposterous’

Can gamification help you learn about ‘Ulysses’? BC’s ‘Joycestick’ team is keen to find out

By Sean Smith | University Communications
January 17, 2017

A literary critic once asserted that the characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses – the sprawling, modernist opus that has bewitched or bedeviled readers for decades – were not fictitious: Through them, Stuart Gilbert said, Joyce achieved “a coherent and integral interpretation of life.”

Now, through a project titled “Joycestick,” Boston College Joyce scholar Joseph Nugent and his team of mainly BC students have taken this “interpretation of life” to a whole other realm.

Joycestick is Ulysses adapted as an immersive, 3D virtual reality (VR) computer game – a “gamification,” in contemporary parlance. Users don a VR eyepiece and headphones and, with gaming devices, navigate and explore various scenes from the book. Nugent, an associate professor of the practice of English, and his team are continuing to develop, refine and add to Joycestick with the hope of formally unveiling it in Dublin this coming June 16 – the date in 1904 on which Ulysses takes place, now celebrated as Bloomsday in honor of the book’s main character, Leopold Bloom. Read more on Boston College class creates Joycestick, Ulysses adapted as an immersive, 3D VR game…

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Timebound app takes users back in time to relive history as it happened

[Note the many references to types of presence in this story from techdigg about an app that immerses users in historical events. See the Kickstarter page for much more information, including videos, and to donate. –Matthew]

Timebound: New App Travels Back in Time to Relive History as It Happened

By Kevin Ott
March 20, 2017

Some ideas are so brilliant, yet so simple, that it’s almost frustrating to learn about them. “Why didn’t I think of that?” is usually the first thought.

The new app Timebound, estimated to be available for iOS and Android as soon as May 2017, has that effect because of its very simple, but smart use of push-notification technology on mobile devices. It leverages that simple technology for all it’s worth, then combines it with superb research and writing to make something special.

It will be an especially desirable app for history buffs who love reliving and immersing themselves in historical events.

Of course, there’s the education angle too: once the word gets around about this new app, tech-savvy history teachers around the world will likely make it a mandatory download for their students.

History Brought to Life: What Timebound Does (Besides Almost Achieving Time Travel)

Timebound essentially places you in the real-time flow of history as it happened by notifying you of every twist and turn of an event through push-notifications. It uses the exact times and sequences of important developments as they happened.

You suddenly find yourself standing in the shoes of those who lived through it.

And it does it in an engaging, exciting way using good writing and storytelling–at least, that is the goal of the Timebound team. They also have made immersive maps and other bonus resources that give it a feature-rich experience.

In the company’s own words:

“Timebound is an app for learning about the past in an easy and exciting way. It allows you to follow important historical events hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. You can join the Titanic on her maiden voyage, witness the hunt for Jack the Ripper, see the first landing on the Moon, experience the first Woodstock festival, and dozens of other thrilling stories.” Read more on Timebound app takes users back in time to relive history as it happened…

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Meet the AI robot who can switch between ‘family’ and ‘sexy’

[Echoing the excellent series Humans, the latest advanced sex doll includes a broader set of AI-based behaviors. The first story below, from LADbible, describes Sergi Santos’ creation; the second story, from MIC, considers some of the many ethical issues it (she?) raises. See the Synthiea Amatus website for much more information including images and videos.  –Matthew]

Meet The AI Robot Who Can Switch Between ‘Family’ And ‘Sexy’

Michael Minay in MORE
March 20, 2017

Meet Silicon Samantha. An artificial intelligence robot who has a functioning G-Sport and can switch between ‘family’ and ‘sexy’ mode.

She’s been revealed to the world by her creator, Sergio Santos who claims that the robot is getting pretty close to realness.

Samantha has a functional vagina and mouth designed by her Spanish inventor.

The bot has dark brown hair, green eyes (that disturbingly don’t blink) and is capable of ’emotional closeness’ according to Sergi.

He said: “Samantha is interactive. Basically she likes to be touched.

“She has different modes of interaction – she has romantic, she has family and she also has sexy modes.

Her family ‘senses’ come from touching the hands and the hips, and apparently this is how she starts out; wanting to be part of your family.

Her sexual phrases include: “I’m on for you all the time’, “nice and gentle” and “Now then, what’s next?”

So, what does Samantha like in the bedroom?

“Normally she likes to be kissed… and she responds to, basically, the G-spot and the breasts,” he said.

“You get to a point that she wants to be sexual,” he continued.

“The final objective of the sexual mode is to give her an orgasm.” Read more on Meet the AI robot who can switch between ‘family’ and ‘sexy’…

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