ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Call: “Beyond the Game,” a documentary about VR and online worlds

BEYOND THE GAME, from director Jos de Putter is finally here, after its long festival tour of the Margaret Mead Film Festival, the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam, the Vancouver Film Festival, and beyond.

BEYOND THE GAME is widely considered the best film about virtual reality and online worlds. Our disc also features an extremely rare interview with the founders of Blizzard Games, makers of Warcraft, Starcraft, and so many more absolutely crucial and influential movements in online culture. Read more on Call: “Beyond the Game,” a documentary about VR and online worlds…

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HyperReality helmet uses Kinect to create an out-of-body experience

[From Fast Company‘s Co.Design site, where the article includes more images and two videos]

HyperReality Helmet Uses Kinect To Create An Out-Of-Body Experience

Maxence Parache’s experimental augmented-reality system lets you detach your point of view from your body.

July 28, 2011

We take our first-person visual perspective for granted every second of the day — we have to, because our eyeballs are attached to our heads. But what if you could detach your personal “camera angle” at any moment and float away from your own body while still inhabiting it, like an on-demand out-of-body experience? Designer Maxence Paranche has created the next best thing in his HyperReality system, which uses a Microsoft Kinect to scan your physical environment and display it inside a virtual-reality helmet, so you can rotate the visual angle any way you like.

Granted, the visual display inside that weird yellow helmet isn’t exactly Tron-quality: your local environment is rendered as an array of monochrome dots. And rotating a camera angle separate from the virtual “body” you inhabit is something that video gamers (and Second Life enthusiasts) do all the time. The interesting thing about HyperReality is how it combines these two interfaces into one, physically embodied experience. Using an Arduino-powered glove equipped with force sensors, “the user is able to rotate the 3D view around the virtual (scanned) environment, change his point of view and enable new behaviors,” Paranche tells Co.Design via email. In other words, you’re still able to physically interact with all the “real stuff” around you, but you can also pan your “mind’s eye” around the scene separate from your own body, just like you would in a video game. Read more on HyperReality helmet uses Kinect to create an out-of-body experience…

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Call: Encountering the Real Virtuality: Digital Games in Media, Culture and Society – Special issue of Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture


Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture (WPCC) Vol9 No2, 2012

Special issue – Encountering the Real Virtuality: Digital Games in Media, Culture and Society

Digital games have emerged as a significant sector of the media and cultural economy. It is very important for industry practitioners, regulators and media academics to understand the social and cultural impacts of gaming and the interactive and immersive experience involved for gamers. Digital games today are not simply used for entertainment. The global ‘serious games’ movement, for example, aims to maximize the potential of ‘play’ and is expanding the possibility of digital games by integrating them into education, defence, management, and health. Within academia, the study of digital games has involved important debates on social reality, virtuality, interactivity, and narratological/ludological essence. Through the use of different theoretical approaches, we need to continue exploring and redefining the meaning of digital games. This special issue of Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture (WPCC) aims to increase the dialogue between international media/game researchers by presenting contemporary research into digital games drawn from diverse perspectives. Papers from international scholars are all welcomed. Read more on Call: Encountering the Real Virtuality: Digital Games in Media, Culture and Society – Special issue of Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture…

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Museum of Modern Art exhibit “Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects”

[From MoMA (pdf)]


Installation Provides Visitors with Greater Access to Information by Incorporating the Use of Technology, Including QR Codes and Twitter Hashtags for Each Object

Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects
July 24–November 7, 2011
Special Exhibitions Gallery, third floor

NEW YORK, July 19, 2011—The Museum of Modern Art presents Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects from July 24 to November 7, 2011. With nearly 200 projects ranging from the microscopic to the cosmic and all designed in the past few years or currently under development, the exhibition explores design’s new terrain: enhancing communicative possibilities, embodying a new balance between technology and people, and bringing technological breakthroughs to an approachable, human scale. These projects include interfaces, websites, video games, tools, charts, and information systems on topics global and local, public and personal. The exhibition is organized by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, and Kate Carmody, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

Whether openly and actively or in subtle, emotional, or subliminal ways, objects talk to people. As the purpose of design has, in past decades, shifted away from mere utility toward meaning and communication, objects that were once charged only with being elegant and functional now need to have personalities. Thanks to digital technology, these objects even have the tools to communicate through their interfaces, adding a new interactive dimension. Contemporary designers, in addition to giving objects form, function, and meaning, now write the initial scripts that are the foundations for these useful and satisfying conversations.

Talk to Me highlights the groundbreaking ways in which objects help users interact with complex systems and networks. It focuses on objects and concepts that involve direct interaction, such as interfaces for ATMs, check-in kiosks, and emergency dispatch centers; visualization designs that render visible complex data about people, cities, and nations; communication devices and other products that translate and deliver information; expressive and talkative objects; and projects that establish a practical, emotional, or even sensual connection between their users and entities such as cities, companies, governmental institutions—as well as other people. The exhibition is loosely divided into six sections, according to who or what is doing the talking, from objects to other people, the city, and even life. Read more on Museum of Modern Art exhibit “Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects”…

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Call: Foundations of Digital Games 2012

Foundations of Digital Games 2012

May 29-June 1, 2012
Raleigh, North Carolina

Call for Papers, Demos, and Posters

Important Dates

Full Paper & Panel Submission: 19 December 2011
Paper, Panel & Doctoral Consortium Author Notification: 1 March 2012
Doctoral Consortium Submission: 9 January 2012
Posters and Demo Submission: 12 March 2012
Poster and Demo Notification: 30 March 2012
Camera Ready Full Papers: 9 April 2012
Camera Ready Posters and Demos: 20 April 2012

FDG 2012, the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, is a focal point for academic efforts in all areas of research and education involving games, game technologies, gameplay, and game design. The goal of the conference is the advancement of the study of digital games, including new game technologies, capabilities, designs, applications, educational uses, and modes of play. Read more on Call: Foundations of Digital Games 2012…

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Driving a robot from the International Space Station

[From redOrbit]

[Image1: The Justin mobile robotic system, developed at the German Aerospace Center, DLR, with its compliant controlled lightweight arms and its two four-fingered hands, is an ideal experimental platform [for the use of teleoperation in space exploration]. The mobile platform allows the long-range autonomous operation of the system. The independent wheels respond to the requirements of Justin’s upper body during manipulation tasks. Sensors and cameras allow the 3D reconstruction of the robot’s environment, enabling Justin to perform his work autonomously. Credits: DLR]

Driving A Robot From The Space Station

Posted on: Thursday, 30 June 2011

Meet Justin, an android who will soon be controlled remotely by the astronauts in ESA’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. With this and other intriguing experiments like the Eurobot rover, ESA is paving the way for exploring the Moon and planets with tele-operated robots.

In two to three years, the experimental robot on Earth will faithfully mimic the movements of an astronaut on the Space Station.

By wearing an exoskeleton – a combination of arm and glove with electronic aids to reproduce the sensations a human hand would feel – a distant operator can work as though he were there. Read more on Driving a robot from the International Space Station…

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Call: Doctoral Colloquium on Games and Play at DIGRA 2011

Doctoral Colloquium on Games and Play DIGRA 2011

At the Digital Games Research Association (DIGRA) 2011 conference 15-17 September, we seek to connect game and play research to the creative industries and society by fostering an integrated practice of research, design, engineering and entrepreneurship. The Doctoral Consortium at the DIGRA 2011 Conference will bring together +- 15 PhD students researching Games and Play for an afternoon of presentations and interactions with the organizers. We specifically encourage students who’s research focus is on: Game Design, Playful Interaction, the Role of play in contemporary culture and Playful Identities Read more on Call: Doctoral Colloquium on Games and Play at DIGRA 2011…

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Facebook and the ugly present, wonderful future of video communications

[From Bob Enderle’s Unfiltered Opinion IT Business Edge blog]

[Image: A scene from the film Demolition Man]

Facebook and the Ugly Present, Wonderful Future of Video Communications

Posted by Rob Enderle Jul 7, 2011

One-on-one videoconferencing has likely had the longest time coming to market of any tech product since it became viable as a technology. First showcased in the 1960s, I participated in the first large trials at Apple that started in the late 1980s. While desktop cameras proliferated on notebooks and as USB peripherals, for much of the last two decades, people have rarely performed video calls.

WebEx and Microsoft’s Live Meeting have had video capability for several years now and Skype has had it far longer, yet folks just don’t choose to use these features. Large-room videoconferencing has been under deployment for nearly two decades and it is currently backed by Cisco, but HP recently exited the business selling it to Polycom, which has acquired a massive number of similar companies over the last couple of decades to become the equivalent of the great videoconferencing graveyard.

Conference-room solutions are expensive but, if used properly, can pay for themselves in months in terms of saved travel expense, and yet they are still rarely used. Desktop videoconferencing systems have been around for over a decade and are both cheap and relatively easy to use. If we really like to communicate by seeing people, why hasn’t desktop videoconferencing taken off yet?

Let’s explore why video isn’t really working right now and touch on what’s coming that may change this. The trigger is the Facebook Video Chat announcement, which makes the mistake of the past but has the potential to evolve into something that actually is amazing. Read more on Facebook and the ugly present, wonderful future of video communications…

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Call: Singularity Summit 2011

AUGUST 20-21

What will tomorrow look like?

Few could predict just how fast and dramatic the social, economic and political impacts of computer technology could be in our lifetimes.

If present trends are to continue, computers will have more advanced and powerful ‘brains’ than humans within 25 years.

This August, leading scientists, inventors and philosophers will gather at RMIT to discuss the upcoming ‘intelligence explosion’ that many now refer to as ‘The Singularity’- a technological breakthrough that promises to eclipse previous computing developments with the creation of super-human machines.

The ‘Singularity Summit’ – a part of National Science Week – is an unprecedented opportunity to engage with today’s leading experts on emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, nanotechnology and brain-computer interfaces – right here in Melbourne.

As a pre-summit launch, the Australian premiere of documentary ‘Transcendent Man’ –  featuring leading futurist, singularity advocate and recent Time Magazine cover star ‘Ray Kurzweil’ – will be held at Nova Cinemas, Carlton on August 19.

The screening will also feature a prerecorded message to Australia from Ray Kurzweil and producer Barry Ptolemy, and a Q&A session with documentary participants and Internationally renowned Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts – Dr Ben Goertzel and Dr Hugo De Garis – both of whom will also be presenting at the summit.

The 2010 Singularity Summit drew over a hundred local, interstate and international enthusiasts to hear first-rate speakers from a range of fields.

In 2011, we have again assembled a stellar line-up – Including leading Artificial Intelligence experts Dr Ben Goertzel and Professor Steve Omohundro, popular scientist Dr Lawrence Krauss and renowned philosopher Dr David Chalmers.  This years summit will also feature exciting robotic demonstrations by Professor Raymond Jarvis, and others.

The summit will explore the important ethical and philosophical dimensions of the Singularity – whilst sharing the very latest scientific and technological breakthroughs.

There’s simply no better way to glimpse the future of these exciting technologies. Read more on Call: Singularity Summit 2011…

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The Advanced Visualisation and Interaction Environment (AVIE) and children’s developing brains

[From The Australian]

[Image: The interactive experience at UNSW’s iCinema Centre. Source: The Australian]

Lost in cyberspace

Ruth Ostrow
From: The Australian
July 23, 2011

You only have to be the parent of a child over the age of seven to know what I’m talking about: the vacant eyes so preoccupied by what’s on screen that they can’t focus on your face for more than a few seconds before being drawn back into the cyberworld.

As you talk, your little darling types or toggles. “Are you listening to me?” you ask, only to be told in a precocious tone: “Yeahhhh. I’m multitasking, Mum.”

It gets worse. By 16, girls no longer seem to have use of their tongues. “Text it to me, Mum,” quips my daughter, barely able to contain her contempt that she has to speak and breathe at the same time. I know one mother who got her daughter to the dinner table by posting the request on Facebook. It was so like social death for the girl that, like, she never failed to come to the table again. Technologies such as Twitter are alarmingly succinct. If you can’t say it in two lines, don’t bother. Luckily, I come from the dinosaur era of the telegram: “Come home (stop) Finish homework (stop) Or no mobile (stop).”

A study last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation in the US found that children from eight to 18 spend more than 7½ hours a day online and/or using electronic devices. And that doesn’t count the hour and a half that youths spend texting or talking on their mobiles. Because so many of them are multitasking – chatting on Facebook while playing games, surfing and texting – they pack an average of almost 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours. Some psychologists call this behaviour addiction; the Federal Government is investigating the effects of internet use on young Australians.

British scientist Susan Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford, believes that the pre-frontal cortex, which governs empathy and compassion, needs social nourishment in order to grow and develop synaptic connections. This starts with the mother’s gaze, the incredible stare of love that stimulates the brain. It is further developed by gazing at, and with, other people through smiles, sneers, flushes and changing voice tone, along with social skills such as reading. Greenfield even refers to pheromones, the smells we emit that give signals to others.

The danger with our technology-obsessed kids, Greenfield warns, is that they are no longer accustomed to the full range of messy and meaningful human interactions. Social technology is moulding children’s brains so that they are unable to empathise with others; in short, we’re breeding a generation of narcissists. A recent gag on TV sums this up. A comedian is selling a new device that discreetly projects text messages from his mobile onto other people’s foreheads. “Now you can read your texts or Tweets and your companion will think you are really interested in them!”

But before mums and dads are tempted to pull the plug on all this new technology, there’s a twist to the story. Enter Professor Dennis Del Favero, philosopher, artist and director of the iCinema Centre at the ¬University of NSW. With a team of computer scientists, engineers, filmmakers and artists, Del Favero has pioneered technology that promises to transform the interactive experience for the better. Instead of pushing us away from the world, it unites us with it.

The technology, which involves interactive multimedia, has attracted worldwide attention. It’s already achieved $7.1 million in sales, most recently to China as a mining industry educational tool; the Museum of Victoria is about to launch a version of it; three universities here and abroad have expressed strong interest; and Hollywood’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, inspected the facilities on a recent visit to Australia.

How to best explain it? It’s called AVIE – Advanced Visualisation and Interaction Environment – and it’s a computer program shown on a large circular screen using 12 projectors. You enter the space and 3D moving images play all around you, including above and below. It’s not too far removed from Star Trek’s science-fictional holodeck, a large room in which holographic images are projected from every angle to simulate an environment. Read more on The Advanced Visualisation and Interaction Environment (AVIE) and children’s developing brains…

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