ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Scientists, lawyers mull effects of home robots

[From Associated Press)]

Scientists, lawyers mull effects of home robots

Published: December 5, 2009

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) – Eric Horvitz illustrates the potential dilemmas of living with robots by telling the story of how he once got stuck in an elevator at Stanford Hospital with a droid the size of a washing machine.

“I remembered thinking, ‘Whoa, this is scary,’ as it whirled around, almost knocking me down,” the Microsoft researcher recalled. “Then, I thought, ‘What if I were a patient?’ There could be big issues here.”

We’re still far from the sci-fi dream of having robots whirring about and catering to our every need. But little by little, we’ll be sharing more of our space with robots in the next decade, as prices drop and new technology creates specialized machines that clean up spilled milk or even provide comfort for an elderly parent.… read more. “Scientists, lawyers mull effects of home robots”

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Virtual solution to driving phobias

[From AlphaGalileo (“Europe’s leading source of research news”)]

News Release

Virtual solution to driving phobias

19 October 2009 The University of Manchester

Nervous drivers are being helped to overcome their road phobias by donning Cyclops-style goggles that transport them to a three-dimensional virtual world.

Researchers at The University of Manchester have recruited volunteers with a variety of driving phobias to test whether virtual reality can be used alongside conventional psychological therapies to help tackle their fears.

The Virtual Reality Exposure Treatment (VRET) will allow participants to drive on virtual roads and confront their fears, whether they might be driving over bridges, overtaking slow-moving traffic or taking to the motorway or dual-carriageway.

“Phobias may develop from a real-life event but the levels of anxiety and avoidance that results becomes wholly disproportionate to the incident that led to the phobia and can become a major disruption to the way people lead their lives,” said Caroline Williams, who will be carrying out the research in Manchester’s School of Psychological Sciences.… read more. “Virtual solution to driving phobias”

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Call: Immersive Education 2010 Boston Summit

Immersive Education Initiative announces IMMERSIVE EDUCATION 2010 BOSTON SUMMIT

World’s leading experts in virtual worlds, learning games and educational simulations convene April 23-25 in Boston for special three-day conference open to the global education community

BOSTON, MA – December 2, 2009 – The Immersive Education Initiative today announced that early registration for the 2010 Boston Summit is now open. Boston College will host the Immersive Education 2010 Boston Summit from April 23-25 through special arrangement with the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College. Organized specifically for educators, researchers, and administrators, the three-day conference consists of presentations, panel discussions, break-out sessions and workshops that provide attendees with an in-depth overview of immersive learning platforms and technologies.

The Summit will feature new and emerging virtual worlds, learning games, educational simulations, mixed/augmented reality, and related teaching tools, techniques, technologies, standards and best practices.… read more. “Call: Immersive Education 2010 Boston Summit”

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Study of avatar effects on users in video games, virtual worlds

[From the web site of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin]

Avatars Can Surreptitiously and Negatively Affect User in Video Games, Virtual Worlds, Research Shows

AUSTIN, Texas-Nov. 10, 2009-Although often seen as an inconsequential feature of digital technologies, one’s self-representation, or avatar, in a virtual environment can affect the user’s thoughts, according to research by a University of Texas at Austin communication professor.

In the first study to use avatars to prime negative responses in a desktop virtual setting, Jorge Peña, assistant professor in the College of Communication, demonstrated that the subtext of an avatar’s appearance can simultaneously prime negative (or anti-social) thoughts and inhibit positive (or pro- social) thoughts inconsistent with the avatar’s appearance. All of this while study participants remained unaware they had been primed. The study, co-written with Cornell University Professor Jeffrey T.… read more. “Study of avatar effects on users in video games, virtual worlds”

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UAB virtual enterprise turns 3-D simulations into teaching, rehabilitation tools

[From The Birmingham (Alabama) News]

UAB virtual enterprise turns 3-D simulations into teaching, rehabilitation tools

By Anna Velasco — The Birmingham News
November 30, 2009, 11:50AM

Virtual reality has gotten a lot more real.

It has, at least, at the UAB department of mechanical en­gineering, where faculty and students are working on a three-dimensional lab that will allow simulation of everything from surgery to skiing snow­covered slopes. The University of Alabama at Birmingham got the hardware — known as VisCube — for the lab earlier this fall, and engineers are writing software for use in many disciplines, including medicine, dentistry, physical therapy and engineering.

A person wearing specialized glasses can step into an area with screens on three sides and immerse into a simulation. The person can “touch” and interact with the simulation by waving a motion-tracking wand.

The engineers are still in the design phase of the software, but they anticipate creating programs that not only allow surgeons to practice a particular operation but to practice it on a virtual replica of the patient they intend to operate on.… read more. “UAB virtual enterprise turns 3-D simulations into teaching, rehabilitation tools”

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Virtual BBQ restaurant Air Yakiniku

[From the New York Times blog The Moment; a 2:12 minute video is available here]


July 20, 2009, 2:12 pm

Now Online | Air Yakiniku, Food for Thought


When the virtual restaurant Air Yakiniku appeared online last January, it became both an instant success in Japan (where else?) and one of the more curious signs of these globally lean times. The “restaurant,” a Korean barbecue, works like this: once you´re on the site, you´re given an apron to print out and wear to keep “grease” from splattering on your computer. I´m not joking. Then you´re asked to choose from slices of pork, chicken or beef, which a hand splays out on a full-screen sizzling BBQ spit.  Visitors are encouraged to have (real) bowls of rice and dipping sauce on hand as they watch and listen to their beef crackle and char.… read more. “Virtual BBQ restaurant Air Yakiniku”

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Comcast Center HD Video Wall gets a dose of 3D for the holidays

[From Engadget HD; the web story includes photos and video; a story about last year’s display follows below]

Comcast Center HD Video Wall gets a dose of 3D for the holidays

by Richard Lawler Nov 26th 2009 @ 3:01PM

Probably hoping to avoid our prediction of possibly getting old over time, Comcast is introducing a new wrinkle for the 2009 Holiday spectacular on its $22 million 2,000 sq ft high-definition video wall — 3D. It’s the first time this has played on the wall, with a 19 minute video complete with scenes of rural PA and downtown Philadelphia. Stop by the Comcast Center between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to grab some complementary 3D specs and check it out.


[From the Philly Chit Chat blog; see a 45 second video taken during last year’s show here. ]

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Comcast Holiday Lights Show in the Lobby

Move over Macy’s there’s a new kid in town.… read more. “Comcast Center HD Video Wall gets a dose of 3D for the holidays”

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A long-distance robot relationship

[From The MIT Technology Review Editors blog]

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Long-Distance Robot Relationship

Telepresence robots could soon be available for remote workers.

By Kristina Grifantini

Last week, as I tapped a laptop keyboard in Massachusetts, a humanoid robot whirled around a lab in California. I tapped more slowly and the robot turned until I saw Trevor Blackwell, CEO and founder of telepresence company Anybots, which manufactures the robot, in the laptop window.

“There’s a mirror over there,” Blackwell said, pointing, and I tapped the keys again until I was facing it. I saw a slender, wheeled robot with two cameras and a small square video screen on its head displaying the real me. This was QB (pictured above), the latest Anybots robot, which is just about to go into private beta testing.

I tried out QB at the 2009 IEEE conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications (TePRA) conference, where I also met Erin Rapacki, Anybots’ newest employee.… read more. “A long-distance robot relationship”

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