ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

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

First-person report: Why VR is a game-changer for my meditation practice

[In this story from Brit + Co the author reports on her experience using an Oculus Go meditation program; as you’d expect, spatial presence and presence as transportation and immersion play important roles. –Matthew]

Why Virtual Reality Is a Game-Changer for My Meditation Practice

Sarah Garone
Aug 15, 2018

Virtual reality is cropping up everywhere, so it only makes sense that this immersive technology would eventually make a foray into meditation. But what’s it like to meditate with more than just your own consciousness to help you along? Is VR-assisted meditation distracting? Strange? Peaceful? When the folks at Oculus Go offered to let me try out the Guided Meditation app on their VR headset, I had the chance to find out.

Upon first learning about this app, I was a bit skeptical about how I would like it. In my previous experiences with virtual reality, I’ve basically been the person you see in embarrassing YouTube videos groping the air in front of them blindly and screaming in terror on imaginary roller coasters. Plus, I’m more than a little bit claustrophobic, so I harbored some concerns that I might want to rip the device off my head before I even got started.

But I did it anyway, fueled by the belief that new experiences are good for me. Perhaps this app could serve as an interesting avenue for stress relief, I thought, or a helpful tool for overcoming some of the challenges I face in meditation. Here’s what happened… Read more on First-person report: Why VR is a game-changer for my meditation practice…

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VR and presence help caregivers, family members understand what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s

[In a very positive application of presence, virtual reality is being used to provide caregivers and family members a first-person experience of what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s disease, as reported in this story from the Chicago Tribune. See also the 2013 ISPR Presence News post “Virtual dementia experience for aged care workers.” –Matthew]

[Image: Ann Brennan, director of volunteer services for Chicago Methodist Senior Services, puts a virtual reality headset on Amber Davis at Hartwell Place in Andersonville, as she prepares to go through a lab designed to help caregivers understand how it feels to live with dementia. Credit: Kristan Lieb / For the Chicago Tribune.]

What does it feel like to have Alzheimer’s? Virtual reality programs may help you find out

Lisa Schencker, Chicago Tribune
August 14, 2018

After experiencing the world as a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, Ana Lebron took off her virtual reality headset and began to cry.

She couldn’t pinpoint which part of the experience left her in tears. After all, she works with Alzheimer’s patients every day as an activities coordinator at assisted living facility Hartwell Place in Andersonville.

But when she put on that headset and tried to navigate a virtual grocery store, the lights were overpowering, and the food labels were fuzzy. When people spoke to her, their words were distorted. Her virtual family members shot her frustrated glances before they understood why she kept forgetting holidays, faces and how to cook.

“This brings it home even more,” Lebron, said of the experience.

With 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, care facilities and schools are continuously searching for ways to better train caregivers. In recent years, some schools and facilities have turned to a new approach: virtual reality. By putting on a headset, caregivers and others can experience life through the eyes and ears of an individual with Alzheimer’s, even hearing that person’s thoughts. Read more on VR and presence help caregivers, family members understand what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s…

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VR takes University of Auckland property students new places

[This story from the University of Auckland describes a variety of innovative uses of virtual reality and presence in teaching students about property and construction. –Matthew]

VR takes property students new places

13 August 2018

Virtual reality (VR) field trips are now being used to teach students about construction and leaky homes at the University of Auckland Business School, as the technology revolutionizes imaging in the property industry.

From this month, Bachelor of Property students in the stage one course “Introduction to Property” are being given Google Cardboard headsets – a low-cost virtual reality headset that resembles a cardboard Viewfinder from the 1980s, with a place to insert a smartphone. When photos and videos are captured on a special 360 degree camera and played on a smartphone, they appear in 3D, creating an immersive experience.

As part of their coursework, students will take a virtual tour of the construction site at Parnell Terraces, a former leaky building in Auckland which is being remediated. Through VR, students will also explore the hidden working organs of the home of the Business School, the Sir Owen G Glenn Building, including the heating and cooling equipment on the roof and plant rooms in the basement.

Senior Lecturer Dr Michael Rehm, who drove the VR initiative, says: “VR will enable students to virtually experience field trips to active construction sites and other high-risk, complex environments that would be impractical to visit in-person. VR is the next best thing to being there. And they can do it from wherever – their home, a café.” Read more on VR takes University of Auckland property students new places…

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Blippar brings its AR navigation capabilities (and presence) indoors

[When virtual objects and characters are seamlessly overlaid on ‘reality’ a presence illusion is (or at least can be) created. This story from Next Reality describes a new indoor AR system developed by Blippa that has a variety of interesting applications; see the original version of the story, or the Blippar announcement, for more information, pictures and a 2:33 minute demonstration video. Following the story below is an excerpt of coverage by TechCrunch that suggests additional, potentially worrisome, applications of the new system including advertising and monitoring of user movements. –Matthew]

Blippar Brings Its AR Navigation Capabilities Indoors

By Tommy Palladino
August 9, 2018

Computer vision company Blippar has already dabbled with outdoor AR navigation, but now it wants to make it easier for people to make their way through indoor spaces with augmented reality.

On Thursday, the company introduced its Indoor Visual Positioning platform for AR navigation. Using visual landmarks, Indoor Visual Positioning orients users’ locations and guides them to specific destinations or draws their attention to other points of interest.

The platform works similarly to the company’s Visual Positioning System, which is used for outdoor navigation, as showcased in its AR City app.

“Since launching AR City, which is in part powered by our urban visual positioning system, we received a lot of interest in applying this technology indoors,” said Ambarish Mitra, co-founder and CEO of Blippar, in a statement. “I am very proud of what the team has achieved with our indoor visual positioning system. It is another step towards realizing the transformational potential of augmented reality and computer vision and showcases more useful ways these technologies will improve our day-to-day lives.” Read more on Blippar brings its AR navigation capabilities (and presence) indoors…

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Trump and presence: Transmedia story-telling that lets supporters participate in alternative reality

[Brian Stelter, senior media correspondent and host of CNN’s weekly “Reliable Sources” program, has written what I think is an excellent analysis of how Donald Trump continues to upend politics (I would argue dangerously). Note the allusions to elements of presence phenomena in these quotes from his story below:

Read more on Trump and presence: Transmedia story-telling that lets supporters participate in alternative reality…

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Apple patent would add augmented reality to car windshields

[Many of the features of a newly revealed Apple patent filing use augmented reality in interesting ways to evoke presence in vehicles. This story is from WTOC, followed below by excerpts from coverage by Mashable and The Drive.  –Matthew]

[Image: Source: Patently Apple]

Apple patent raises possibility of a future with iWindshields

August 8th 2018
By Jonathan Raymond

(RNN) – Could the next great Apple innovation be the iWindshield?

The World Intellectual Property Organization, a patent agency for the United Nations, published an application last week that was submitted by Apple in 2016 for an “augmented reality display system” for vehicles.

The system would essentially be an interface layered over a windshield, displaying things such as speed or a route. The patent filing also describes the system being able to identify or interact with “environmental objects” such as a sign or other cars.

Such a windshield interface is typically called a “heads up display.” Some rudimentary versions that project information onto a windshield have already been produced.

Apple’s patent, however, describes a fully integrated “smart” windshield, which could even “enable video communication with a remotely-located user.” FaceTime on your windshield, in plain speak.

(Most likely while a future self-driving car allows you to safely be distracted in such a way.)

The patent was first reported on by the website Patently Apple. Read more on Apple patent would add augmented reality to car windshields…

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Lufthansa tests “VR Moving Map” experience on the way to Dubai

[A glass-bottom plane might provide too intense an experience for many, but the “VR Moving Map” feature described in this story from #GNTECH (where the original includes a 2:14 minute video) might be a viable substitute. For much more information see a 2017 report in ClickZ (or VRrOOm), which includes another image and two more videos. –Matthew]

Lufthansa passengers experience VR on the way to Dubai

By Daanesh Kalyaniwalla
August 5, 2018

Lufthansa passengers flying from Frankfurt to Dubai on flight LH630 were in for a surprise on their way here. They were the first to experience the airline’s new prototype “VR Moving Map”, while on board the Airbus A330.

Lufthansa VR – What is it?

Passengers wearing special Lufthansa VR glasses were able to view the moving landscape below them as a 3D map and even take part in 360° virtual excursions.

For example, as the aircraft flew over Vienna, some passengers virtually rode the Prater Ferris Wheel or even had the chance to virtually attend one of the city’s famous classical concerts.

Lufthansa VR – Development

The prototype was developed by Lufthansa in cooperation with 3spin, Lufthansa’s lead agency for virtual and augmented reality. Read more on Lufthansa tests “VR Moving Map” experience on the way to Dubai…

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Japanese students produce virtual reality experience of Hiroshima

[This widely published AP story is important for many reasons, including its illustration of how both the creation and experience of presence can be valuable. This copy is from The Independent, where it includes a 1:18 minute video; the image is one of eight available from AP. –Matthew]

Japanese students produce virtual reality experience of Hiroshima

By transporting users back in time to moment when city was turned into wasteland, group hopes to ensure something similar never happens again

Haruka Nuga
August 6, 2018

FUKUYAMA, Japan (AP) — It’s a sunny summer morning in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Cicadas chirp in the trees. A lone plane flies high overhead. Then a flash of light, followed by a loud blast. Buildings are flattened and smoke rises from crackling fires under a darkened sky.

Over two years, a group of Japanese high school students has been painstakingly producing a five-minute virtual reality experience that recreates the sights and sounds of Hiroshima before, during and after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city 73 years ago Monday.

By transporting users back in time to the moment when a city was turned into a wasteland, the students and their teacher hope to ensure that something similar never happens again. Read more on Japanese students produce virtual reality experience of Hiroshima…

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Can you be present in two places at once? Microsoft adds Mixed Reality Flashlight to VR

[Microsoft has a new way for VR users to see their nonmediated environment without leaving the virtual world one they’re in, raising the long discussed question of whether we can be present in two places at once (see point 6 in “Presence defined”). This story is from Road to VR, where it includes the 1:09 video demonstration of the new feature (the video is also available via YouTube). –Matthew]

Microsoft is Adding Pass-through Video to Windows VR Headsets

By Ben Lang
July 27, 2018

A beta version of Windows 10 now includes support for a pass-through video mode for Windows VR headsets, allowing users to look out at the world around them through the headset’s on-board cameras.

This week Microsoft released Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17723 to users who are part of the Windows Insider Program. The update includes a new feature for Windows VR headsets called ‘Mixed Reality Flashlight’. Activated either through a voice command or a controller shortcut, the Mixed Reality Flashlight makes two circular video windows into the real world appear before the user; each window is positioned based on where the user is pointing their controller. The video seen through the windows comes from the headset’s on-board cameras, which have up until this point been reserved solely for inside-out tracking. The HTC Vive and Vive Pro have a similar function, though it goes widely unused, likely due to the ‘tron mode’ filter which is applied by default and low resolution.

Seen in action in a video by YouTuber ‘NXTwoThou’ [in the original story] (loud volume warning), the pass-through video is monochrome, likely because the cameras on the headset don’t have any color sensors (in order to devote as much of the camera sensor as possible to resolution and dynamic range which is important for the inside-out tracking). Microsoft says the video portals are “low-latency,” but doesn’t offer more detail. Read more on Can you be present in two places at once? Microsoft adds Mixed Reality Flashlight to VR…

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Psychology professor Paul MacNeilage developing underwater VR and measure for VR sickness sensitivity

[Professor Paul MacNeilage is doing interesting work for NASA on underwater VR and Facebook on VR sickness sensitivity. This story from the University of Nevada, Reno provides an overview (and the original includes more images and a 0:36 minute video). See the website of the UNR Self-motion Lab for more information. If you know of or find profiles of people (including you!) doing presence-related research, please let me know (at –Matthew]

[Image: Paul MacNeilage, assistant professor of psychology tests the first version of the underwater VR mask in a pool.

Virtual reality will soon be able to go underwater

Assistant Professor of Psychology is developing an underwater VR headset as part of grant for NASA

August 1, 2018
By: Lisa McDonal

Virtual Reality (VR) technology is in high demand right now and new applications are popping up all the time. Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno, Paul MacNeilage, is among those developing new applications for VR. One of these developments is a VR headset that is capable of being used underwater. Currently, MacNeilage and his team have designed and are testing such a headset that can be used for NASA.

MacNeilage just completed research for a one-year grant from the Nevada NASA Space Grant Consortium. This grant helped to develop the simulation of jet pack locomotion. In space, astronauts have to navigate using a joystick, so MacNeilage has come up with a way to simulate the physics of a real jet pack while underwater. Read more on Psychology professor Paul MacNeilage developing underwater VR and measure for VR sickness sensitivity…

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