ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Call: 2nd Workshop on Games and Natural Language Processing (GAMNLP-13)

CFP: 2nd Workshop on Games and NLP (GAMNLP-13) at ICIDS 2013

9, November, 2013
Istanbul, Turkey

Natural language processing (NLP) investigates computational aspects of natural language which humans produce and understand. While the applications of NLP range from information retrieval to machine translation, this workshop aims at promoting and exploring the possibilities for research and practical applications of NLP in games. With the advances in video games in recent years, areas in which games and NLP can help each other have greatly expanded. For example, games could benefit from NLP’s sophisticated human language technologies in designing and developing novel game experiences through natural and engaging dialogues, or studying games formally. On the other hand, NLP could benefit from games in obtaining language resources (e.g. construction of a thesaurus through a crowdsourcing game), or learning the linguistic characteristics of the game users (as compared to those of other domains). However, those two fields have been regarded distant, and there has not been much collaborative work which exploited the use of one in the other field.

To promote the cross-feeding between the two fields, the 1st workshop on games and NLP was organized and successfully held in 2012 (GAMNLP-12;, as a special session at the 8th International Conference on Natural Language Processing (JapTAL 2012;  To continue to explore the possibilities further, the 2nd installment will be held at The 6th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2013; as a (half-day) workshop in Istanbul, Turkey, aiming to attract researchers both from NLP and Game communities. Please visit for the details. Read more on Call: 2nd Workshop on Games and Natural Language Processing (GAMNLP-13)…

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VR simulators recreate pressures of sports to improve outcomes

[From the Guardian]

Davidn Beckham misses

[Image: England’s David Beckham misses a penalty against Portugal in the Euro 2004 quarter-final at Lisbon’s Estádio da Luz. Photograph: Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuters]

Virtual reality simulators could end England’s penalty shootout woe

  • Technology can recreate pressurised situations for footballers
  • BAE Systems and UK Sport’s project to help Olympic hopefuls

James Riach
Friday 23 August 2013

Virtual reality simulators could be the solution to end England’s penalty shootout woe in major tournaments, with plans to replicate the pressurised atmosphere of a packed stadium potentially coming to the aid of players.

Technology is being developed by engineering company BAE Systems, in conjunction with UK Sport, to assist a number of Olympians and Paralympians in the run-up to the Rio 2016 Games and beyond, with a taekwondo simulator able to create virtual fights already being worked on. Read more on VR simulators recreate pressures of sports to improve outcomes…

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Call: GameDays 2014, 4th International Conference on Serious Games

GameDays 2014, 4th International Conference on Serious Games
Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
April 1-4, 2014

The GameDays are fully dedicated to Serious Games and technologies, research concepts and methods for the creation, control/management and evaluation of Serious Games in a broad spectrum of application domains beyond pure entertainment.

Scientists and practitioners are cordially invited to present their latest research achievements and best-practice results and to submit full papers (e.g., surveys, reports of new research approaches that cover related work, new concepts and at least first user studies), short papers (e.g. best-practice results or new ideas and concepts, not necessarily empirically assessed with an evaluation study), demo papers (description of implemented games, products and prototypes), poster presentations (new ideas, research approaches, work in progress) or workshop proposals (2 hours or half day).

Topics include, but are not limited to: Read more on Call: GameDays 2014, 4th International Conference on Serious Games…

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Video banking: Lights, camera… transactions & interactions?

[From The Financial Brand, where the story includes many images and infographics]

Video banking

Lights, Camera… Transactions & Interactions?

There is no substitute to talking to consumers when and where they need person-to-person help with their finances. Two-way video banking lets financial institutions keep customer engagements personal and expand the reach while cutting back on their expensive branch investments.

August 19, 2013

Telepresence holds great promise for retail banking, but most early-movers are missing the boat. Rather than reinventing the teller experience, banks should pursue video banking as an omnichannel mechanism to improve customer engagement, according to the new report, “Video Banking: Lights, Camera, Transaction?,” from Celent, an international financial research and consulting firm. Read more on Video banking: Lights, camera… transactions & interactions?…

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Centuries-old maps of Rome used to create new exhibition’s virtual, walkable experience

[From PRWeb]

"Renaissance and Baroque Images of Rome" exhibit banner

Emory’s Gaming Platform Recovers Urban History—a Virtual Experience of Rome at the Carlos Museum

This is the first time a gaming platform has been used at Emory University to recover urban history through an immersive and interactive reconstruction.

Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) July 24, 2013

The celebrated bird’s-eye view map of Giovanni Battista Falda, published in 1676, will be transformed into a virtual, walkable, experience of Rome using the gaming platform NVis360, as part of the Carlos Museum’s special exhibition, “Antichità, Teatro, Magnificenza: Renaissance and Baroque Images of Rome,” on view from August 24 through November 17, 2013. “Virtual Rome” subsumes the fine detail of hundreds of etched views of the city made by the young Falda. The Carlos Museum is working in collaboration with Emory Professor of Art History, Sarah McPhee, and Jordan Williams and Erik Lewitt of plexus r + d.

A team of academics, architects, and 3D modelers are documenting Falda’s Rome in maps and views, checking Falda’s data against Rome today, the ichnographic map of 1748 by Giovanni Battista Nolli, and seventeenth-century views and surveyed maps that survive in the Roman archives. The composite image of “Virtual Rome” shows the urban fabric in great visual detail, allowing the viewer to wander the streets, count the windows in façades, and distinguish deciduous trees from evergreens. Read more on Centuries-old maps of Rome used to create new exhibition’s virtual, walkable experience…

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Call: ISPR 2014 in Vienna – August 30 deadline approaching

[The August 30 deadline for submitting work for our next exciting and fulfilling conference adventure, ISPR 2014 in Vienna next March, is near.

For the latest information see the conference web site and Facebook group.

And please help spread the word by distributing this post to your social networks…

–Matthew Lombard]

ISPR 2014

Call for Papers

ISPR 2014: The 15th International Conference on Presence
International Society for Presence Research

March 17th – 19th 2014

Web site:
Facebook group:

Following a series of 14 successful PRESENCE conferences, ISPR 2014: The 15th International Conference on Presence will retain the single-track format and pleasant social environment of previous conferences while featuring expanded oral presentations, poster presentations, panels, keynote presentations and hands-on demonstrations of presence applications, services and projects. Read more on Call: ISPR 2014 in Vienna – August 30 deadline approaching…

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Call: Learning Analytics in Massively Multiuser Virtual Environments and Courses – Special issue of JCAL

for a Special Issue of the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL)
on Learning Analytics in Massively Multiuser Virtual Environments and Courses

There has been much interest of late in ‘big data’ and the role it can play in decision making in diverse areas of business, science and entertainment. By employing a combination of modern artificial intelligence, machine learning and statistics techniques, extremely large and complex data sets can be ‘ mined ’ in a variety of ways to reveal relationships, patterns and insights not easily discoverable through standard database management tools and data processing applications. In the field of education, data mining approaches have been applied to the analysis of electronic ‘ stores ’ or repositories of student data for a number of years now (see Romero & Ventura 200 5), but this has been occurring largely at the institutional or sector level. Such applications, which are sometimes referred to as ‘academic analytics’ (Campbell, DeBlois & Oblinger 2007; Goldstein & Katz 2005), have not become mainstream, being relevant mainly to governments, funding agencies and institutional administrators rather than students and teachers (Siemens et al. 2011).

More recently, a new area of scholarship known as learning analytics (Long & Siemens 2011; Siemens et al. 2011) has emerged that seeks to generate knowledge ‘ about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs ’ (Siemens 2011, para. 5). This knowledge can be employed for a variety of purposes, among which are to allow learners to reflect on their activity and progress in relation to that of others as well as to assist teachers and support staff in predicting, identifying and supporting learners who may require additional attention and intervention (Powell & MacNeill 2012).

Occurring in parallel is the burgeoning trend toward s the delivery of education and learning at a ‘massive’ scale. The last decade has seen an explosion of activity in the use of massively multiplayer online games (e.g. World of Warcraft) and virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life) for both formal and informal learning (see Childress & Braswell 2006; Dalgarno & Lee 2010). These massively multiuser virtual environments (MMVEs) are rife with opportunities for exploiting learning analytics method s to produce enhanced outcomes and experiences for students. At the same time, we have been witnessing a movement in which many universities and colleges, including some of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world ( e.g. Harvard, Stanford, MIT and the Universities of Melbourne, Toronto and Edinburgh, to name a few), are ‘ opening up ’ their course offerings to massive numbers of participants on the Internet (see, for example, Brown 2013; Daniel 2012; McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier 2013; Siemens, Irvine & Code 2013). In such massive open online course s (MOOCs), the involvement of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of students creates a heighted imperative to devise alternative strategies for feedback and assessment that are less reliant on individual teachers. Learning analytics have the potential to be used in MOOCs to facilitate new models of self and peer assessment as well as to make possible the implementation of a range of automated mechanisms to support and augment students’ self – regulated learning goals and processes.

In recognition of the current interest in both learning analytics and massively multiuser environments and courses, contributions are being solicited for a special issue of JCAL addressing the intersection of these domains. It is clear that dialogue and exchange are needed to bring together the various contributory bodies of knowledge encompassed by the two domains, and one of the aims of the special issue will be to help encourage this. To this end, in addition to manuscripts reporting empirical investigations on the application of learning analytics to learning, teaching and assessment in MMVEs and MOOCs, those with a theoretical or conceptual focus will also be considered, with interdisciplinary studies and perspectives particularly sought after and welcomed. However, manuscripts whose content is largely or entirely technical with little or no coverage of the pedagogical and/or instructional design – related aspects are unlikely to be included in the special issue. Moreover, case studies that are purely descriptive and do not contain substantive evaluation data, along with those that appear to promote particular products or platforms, will not be accepted. Read more on Call: Learning Analytics in Massively Multiuser Virtual Environments and Courses – Special issue of JCAL…

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The virtual world of video games welcomes toy players

[From the New York Times]

Disney Infinity

[Image: The video game Disney Infinity shows how characters from the various Disney franchises might be mixed and matched.]

Critic’s Notebook

The Virtual World Welcomes Toy Players

By Chris Suellentrop
Published: August 15, 2013

Many people still think of video games as the province of children, precisely because, at the moment of their mass-market origins in the 1970s, they were genuinely kids’ stuff. A December 1980 article in The New York Times Magazine reported that electronics was transforming the toy industry the same way that plastics had 30 years earlier. The article barely differentiated the video games made by Atari, Coleco and others from the electronic toys made by Texas Instruments and Milton Bradley, including the once-omnipresent color-coded memory game Simon.

Over the next three decades, the two industries went their separate ways. Soon enough, no one would confuse a Furby or a Tickle Me Elmo with a video game.

Now, however, toys and video games are merging again, led by Activision’s Skylanders, a billion-dollar franchise that combines toy figures with a virtual world. Skylanders is currently both the highest-grossing video game of 2013 and the top-grossing action-figure line, according to the company. The third iteration of the game, Skylanders: Swap Force, is scheduled to arrive this fall.

But new competitors are on the horizon, including Disney Infinity, a similar blend of toys and video games, to be released on Sunday, that feels more exciting and inventive than its corporate parent’s disappointing slate of movies this summer. Read more on The virtual world of video games welcomes toy players…

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Call: Interact with virtual human agent online to help refine SimCoach

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am sure you have heard me talk about or have heard about our work on the SimCoach project over the last couple of years and some of you have been a part of the project or have used some of the software. In a nutshell, the SimCoach project aims to help break down barriers to care in Service Members, Veterans and their families by providing the option for folks to interact with an online virtual human agent in an anonymous and confidential fashion. SimCoach is NOT a “doc-in-a-box” that would replace clinical care with a live provider, but RATHER is designed to be a “toe in the water” for those who may feel they are having a hard time following their military deployment and just want some information and advice that will help them to decide if they have a problem, and if so, where they can get help. All this in a safe and confidential environment where users of the system can speak freely about their issues without judgment.

We are now at a point where we have a Beta-version of the system online for initial testing. By testing, I mean we need to get a large number of users to go up on the site to interact with the virtual human agent known as SimCoach, so we can assess how users interact with it, what doesn’t work well, and what we need to do to update, expand and evolve the system. We can’t do that well without getting a large number of interactions with the system.  Thus, I am asking you to please try the link below and interact with the SimCoach named Bill Ford, so that our software can determine where it breaks down or could be improved. This will help us when we take another pass at improving the system in order to release it into the “wild” and promote its use on a wider scale. I am also requesting that you pass this on to others, whether they be friends, colleagues, students, etc. so that we can reach our goal of a few thousand interactions and really get a good sense of what we need to do to make the system better. Also, please take 5 minutes at the end to respond to a brief questionnaire on the experience. We had a much larger questionnaire up there in the past, but a lot of the casual users that stumbled onto the site, did not take the time to fill it out due to the length. We have reduced the number of questions in order to at least get some insight into users’ perception of the system rather than the long version that didn’t get much. Read more on Call: Interact with virtual human agent online to help refine SimCoach…

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Augmenting reality to share both experience and information

[From Hypergrid Business; a CNET story about Space Glasses is here and the product web site is here]

Woman using Space Glasses

Commentary and Opinion: Maria’s Worlds

Virtual reality and the single office worker

By Maria Korolov

At some distant point in the future, virtual reality will be good enough and immersive enough that we can telecommute to our jobs by simply stepping into some version of a Holodeck or plugging into some version of the Matrix.

Today’s virtual reality has only very limited use for the average corporate employee.

There are some uses. Rapid prototyping, virtual simulations, the occasional virtual meeting or conference. But these are, right now, very much niche applications.

One problem is that a typical job involves dealing with two different types of tasks — ones that involve sharing and processing experiences, and ones that involve processing and sharing information.

Virtual reality is great at the experience part. You can your colleagues can, say, ride a rollercoaster together, visit a mockup of your new office building together, or attend a quarterly earnings presentation together.

And your current computer setup is optimized for dealing with information. You’ve got your word processing, your email, your Internet, your spreadsheets, your Skype — everything you need to move data around.

The problem is when these two things overlap. You don’t want to edit a word processing document by waving your hands in the air — you would get very tired, very quickly. The mouse-and-keyboard combination allows you to work for hours at a time. But to use it, you’d have to leave the virtual world.

This is why so many people are frustrated at attending meetings in Second Life or OpenSim — it takes a long time to get into the world, to get the audio to work, to make sure everyone is wearing clothes — and then if all you do is watch a PowerPoint presentation, then what was the point? You could have watched the same presentation online and had a quick conference call, instead.

But with the online presentation, you don’t get the sense of presence — you’re missing the experience part of the equation. You don’t get to interact with your co-workers, to gossip with them afterwards around the water cooler, to catch lunch together after the meeting. And that’s exactly when a big chunk of work actually happens.

But it just occurred to me that we do actually have a technology that combines the two. And I hate to say it, it really feels bad to have to admit it, but it’s Google Glass. Read more on Augmenting reality to share both experience and information…

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