ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: January 2015

Call: In Gallery Engagement: Digital vs Analogue – Oxford University Museums Partnership Conference

Conference Title: In Gallery Engagement: Digital vs Analogue
Date: 22 July 2015, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Computer interactives, augmented reality, video screens and touchtables, digital is increasingly occupying gallery space as a means of engaging audiences with museum content. Museums are experimenting with new technologies to capture audience interest and deliver deeper interpretation. But while the technology for delivering interactive engagement becomes more sophisticated, are the principles different to those of low-tech interactives such as handling collections, replica costumes and ‘lift-the-flap’ activities? Technology aside, how do digital interactives differ from their low-tech counterparts?

Oxford University Museums Partnership will be exploring this issue at a one day conference in Oxford on 22 July 2015. We are inviting colleagues from across the sector to present their best in gallery engagement initiatives, both digital and analogue. We want to hear about image recognition apps and paper detective trails, costumed characters and virtual reality villains, Bluetooth beacons and cardboard cut-outs.

As well as sharing best practice, the conference will provoke debate on how digital technology is changing the museum visitor experience. Read more on Call: In Gallery Engagement: Digital vs Analogue – Oxford University Museums Partnership Conference…

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Does bot-written note in your handwriting look like it’s from uncanny valley?

[From Fast Company, where the story includes more pictures and a 0:19 minute video]

Letter handwritten by Bond robot

Sending A Handwritten Letter Is Now As Easy As Using Gmail

But does a note in your handwriting done by a bot look like it’s sent from uncanny valley? We test out letter-writing company Bond to see.

By Rebecca Greenfield
January 23, 2015

Sitting on my desk is a lovely note, written on thick, customized stationery with my name scrawled across the top. It’s in my handwriting, but I didn’t write it. A robot did.

Looking closely, I can spot some slight differences between the bot-generated lettering and my signature scribble. The penmanship is cleaner, more methodical, a little too consistent. But even with those disparities, the words capture my essence. To anyone else, it looks like I took the time to hand write a thank-you note, when really a machine took words I typed and, like a prosthetic arm, moved a pen up and down the page to write just like I would.

The bot comes by way of Bond, a company looking to take the hand out of hand-written letters. “We think there’s a lot of friction points when it comes to doing something nice for someone else,” Sonny Caberwal, founder and CEO of Bond told Fast Company. New York-based Bond initially launched in 2013 as a gift-giving service with a less adept note-writing bot. The company transitioned to just notes this November, after recognizing how much people liked the personalization aspect of the business.

In its new incarnation, Bond wants to retain the delight of giving and receiving notes, without the hassle of heading to the stationery store, writing out a letter, finding stamps, and locating a mailbox. “Nobody has ever said, ‘You know what’s awesome? I had the best experience at American Greetings,’” said Caberwal. Bond wants to bring the romance back to letter writing with a more modern experience. “We have really set out to reimagine what that would look like—how we can create a truly personal experience that lets people deliver that personal touch that is truly theirs, but let them do it from anywhere,” he added. Read more on Does bot-written note in your handwriting look like it’s from uncanny valley?…

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Call: Physiological Computing – IEEE Computer special issue

We look for contributions for a Special Issue of IEEE Computer on Physiological Computing.

Full paper submission deadline: 1 April 2015
Publication date: October 2015

Computer seeks submissions for the October 2015 special issue on challenges and applications in physiological computing.

Physiological computing — using human physiological data as system inputs in real time — makes it possible to create dynamic user-state representations so that software can respond dynamically and context-specifically to changes in actual human user states. Various paradigms for human–computer interaction fall under this general system rubric: brain–computer interfaces, affective computing, adaptive automation, and health informatics, among others.

Systems like these offer a number of advantages. For example, they can enhance interaction possibilities, particularly during eyes-busy or hands-busy applications; allow for implicit control and/or response mechanisms, such as automatic tagging of media content without explicit gesturing; and promote desirable psychological states and mitigate undesirable ones, with benefits ranging from better performance to greater overall health. Emerging research themes for physiological computing systems include sensor development; real-time signal processing in the field; inference processing (for example, between psychological states and objective measures); data classification methods; and interface/interaction design.

Recent advances in physiological sensor technology and machine learning have sparked increased development of such systems in a variety of fields and also spurred exploration of new paradigms such as human–computer symbiosis, which posits a deep mutual understanding between humans and the computers that exploit their implicit physiological signals (see G. Jacucci et al., “Symbiotic Interaction: A Critical Definition and Comparison to Other Human–Computer Paradigms,” Proc. 3rd Int’l Workshop Symbiotic Interaction, Springer, 2014, pp. 3–20).

This special issue aims to report on current tools, challenges, and applications of physiological computing, providing readers a broad but detailed understanding of how this area has developed and where it is going next. Topics of interest include but are not limited to

  • New human–computer paradigms enabled by physiological computing — for example, symbiosis;
  • Sensor design, including smart clothing, embedded sensors, and contact-free monitoring;
  • Technological challenges, such as inferring states from measures in the real world and real-time classification;
  • Interaction issues, including system accuracy, application acceptance, and interface design; and Potential applications — for example, mental workload monitoring, media tagging, adaptive gaming, and robotics.

Read more on Call: Physiological Computing – IEEE Computer special issue…

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Qantas to provide VR experiences for first-class in-flight entertainment

[From Gizmodo Australia, where the story includes more images and a 0:41 minute video; coverage in the International Business Times notes that Samsung is also discussing partnerships with other airlines and with train operators]

Samsung Gear on Qantas

Qantas To Use Samsung’s Gear VR For First-Class In-Flight Entertainment

Campbell Simpson
January 29, 2015

If you’re lucky enough to fly in first class, your pointy end long-haul flight is about to get even fancier. Qantas is going to be using the Samsung Gear VR, and the accompanying Galaxy Note 4, for in-flight entertainment for its first-class customers.

Starting out as a pilot program on Qantas’ LA to Sydney and Melbourne to LA flights, where the Aussie carrier uses both Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s, the Samsung Gear VR will be offered to first-class passengers to enjoy Qantas-created 360-degree videos and other content. Around a dozen Gear VR headsets and Galaxy Note 4 handsets are being used for the initial partnership — four on the outbound flight, four on the inbound flight, and two each for Qantas’ Sydney and Melbourne first-class passenger lounges.

Only the A380 flights will be equipped with the headsets. The Gear VR will be used with a Qantas app on the Note 4, showing immersive videos created by Qantas to show off the airline and Australia — including a 360-degree look at the Qantas first-class lounge in LAX, runway-side videos of A380s landing and taking off, and a virtual reality boat ride down a Northern Territory river in Kakadu co-shot with Tourism NT and video production company Jaunt. Read more on Qantas to provide VR experiences for first-class in-flight entertainment…

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Call: 2015 Games and Software Engineering Workshop (with ICSE 2015)

Fourth International Workshop on Games and Software Engineering
Workshop in conjunction with ICSE 2015 (Int’l Conference on Software Engineering)
Florence/Firenze, Italy
May 18, 2015


The 2015 Games and Software Engineering workshop (GAS 2015) explores issues that crosscut the software engineering and the game engineering communities. Modern games entail the development, integration, and balancing of software capabilities drawn from algorithm design and complexity, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, computer-supported cooperative work/play, database management systems, human-computer interaction and interface design, operating systems and resource/storage management, networking, programming/scripting language design and interpretation, performance monitoring, and more. Few other software system application arenas demand such technical mastery and integration skill. Yet game development is expected to rely on such mastery, and provide a game play experience that most users find satisfying, fun, and engaging. Computer games are thus an excellent domain for which to research and develop new ways and means for software engineering.


Game developers share a common community of interest: how to best engineer game software. They focus their attention on entertainment market opportunities as well as game-based applications in non-entertainment domains such as education, healthcare, defense, and scientific research (i.e., serious games). This Workshop seeks contributions from academic researchers and commercial game developers, addressing topics that span the emerging and current research challenges in the area: Read more on Call: 2015 Games and Software Engineering Workshop (with ICSE 2015)…

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“First live VR broadcast brought the beach to my backyard”

[From Engadget, where the story includes more pictures]

NextVR - Laguna Beach live

The first live VR broadcast brought the beach to my backyard

By Richard Lawler | January 26th 2015

On Saturday morning in Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was about 30 degrees outside, but I was in my backyard enjoying a 75-degree day at the beach. That’s only possible because I was testing out the first attempt at streaming virtual reality from one place to another — in this case from Laguna Beach, California, to a Samsung Gear VR headset strapped to my head. Thanks to technology from the folks at Next VR, I could see and hear everything in 3D as though I was actually there, looking around in a virtual reality environment while on the phone with co-founder David Cole. Read more on “First live VR broadcast brought the beach to my backyard”…

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Call: South West Virtual Reality Conference

[Information about the upcoming South West Virtual Reality Conference, from Road to VR, where the story includes several images]

UK Based ‘South West VR’ Conference Announced, Guests Include Oculus, Aardman and Unity

January 25, 2015 by Paul James

As virtual reality rises, so does the need for its enthusiasts and industry members to meet. The UK has a thriving VR community and a growing industry presence, so the recently announced South West Virtual Reality Conference on the 24th Feb, is a welcome addition to the VR calendar.

Whilst the US, and in particular, the west coast, get a large proportion of the world’s attention when it comes to all things virtual reality, Europe and in particular the UK has a buzzing VR development and enthusiasts community. The UK’s gaming market is the 3rd largest in the world, estimated to be worth a cool £1.7Bn. The UK games development industry has seriously good form too, with developers like Rockstar (GTA), Rocksteady (Batman: Arkham series), Codemasters (GRID), CCP Games (EVE / Valkyrie) and Creative Assembly (Alien: Isolation) to name but a few. Eagle-eyed readers will probably also note than a couple of the developers above have dabbled with implementing VR in their games.

Last year’s excellent VRTGO conference, held in Gateshead in the North East of the country proved there was huge demand for formal VR focussed events in the UK. South West VR (SWVR), much like it’s US counterpart SVVR (no direct relation), was borne from a community gathering designed to pull together local virtual reality enthusiasts and development talent to talk VR. SWVR is now following in the SVVR Conference and Expo’s footsteps in taking the informal meet up to the next level. Read more on Call: South West Virtual Reality Conference…

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Brand Killer: Augmented reality goggles create real-world AdBlock

[From International Business Times, where the story includes more images and a 0:55 minute video]

Brand Killer VR Adblock

[Image: Brand Killer blocks ads in real time from the wearer’s point of view using a DIY augmented reality headset]

Brand Killer: Augmented reality goggles create real-world AdBlock

By Anthony Cuthbertson
January 23, 2015

A new use for augmented reality headsets has been developed by students in the US using software that blocks brand’s logos in the real world.

Brand Killer was designed and built by undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania and uses similar technology to other virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, such as the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR.

The system effectively works as an offline version of AdBlock Plus, a popular piece of software used to prevent advertisements from appearing on web browsers and in online videos. Read more on Brand Killer: Augmented reality goggles create real-world AdBlock…

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Call: Vittorio Gallese lectures – “The Body, the Brain, Symbolic Expression and Its Experience: An Experimental Aesthetics Perspective”

[Note that the first lecture is Wednesday January 28, 2015  –Matthew]

The Body, the Brain, Symbolic Expression and Its Experience: An Experimental Aesthetics Perspective.

Vittorio Gallese, University of Parma

Chandaria Lectures, Institute of Philosophy, Senate House (London WC1), Room 349, third floor
Wed Jan 28th 6pm ; Feb 11th 6pm ; and Feb 18th 6pm

Cognitive neuroscience can shed new light – from its own methodological reductionist perspective – on the aesthetic quality of human nature and its natural creative inclination. By exploiting the neurocognitive approach, viewed as a sort of ‘cognitive archeology’, we can empirically investigate the neurophysiological brain-body mechanisms that make our interactions with the world possible, detect possible functional antecedents of our cognitive skills and measure the socio-cultural influence exerted by human cultural evolution onto the very same cognitive skills. We can now look at the aesthetic-symbolic dimension of human existence not only from a semiotic-hermeneutic perspective, but starting from the dimension of bodily presence. In so doing we can deconstruct some of the concepts we normally use when referring to intersubjectivity or to aesthetics and art, as well as when referring to the experience we make of them.

This approach, which I’ll designate as ‘experimental aesthetics’, can enrich our understanding of symbolic expression and its reception, by studying their neural and bodily components. The definition of art and the way we appreciate it are both historically and socio-culturally determined. However, while acknowledging that aesthetic experience is multilayered, the cognitive primacy of our reactions to the outcomes of symbolic expression can be challenged. In the course of the three lectures I’ll review empirical work on the aesthetic experience of static and moving images like paintings, and movies. I will posit that the aesthetic experience of the outcomes of human symbolic expression can be grounded on the variety of embodied simulation mechanisms they evoke in beholders. Read more on Call: Vittorio Gallese lectures – “The Body, the Brain, Symbolic Expression and Its Experience: An Experimental Aesthetics Perspective”…

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Vice and noted directors use VR to immerse viewers in news

[From The New York Times, where the story includes an additional image]

Scene from Millions March protest

[Image: A scene from the Millions March protest. Credit VICE]

Vice Uses Virtual Reality to Immerse Viewers in News

By Emily Steel
January 23, 2015

A young woman stands in the middle of a crowd of protesters marching up a New York City street, shouting that she is fed up with police brutality, fed up with people saying that black lives don’t matter, fed up with people telling her not to be angry.

“My people don’t deserve this,” she yells, inches away from your face. “We have right to protest. We have right to be angry.”

You look to the left, and see protesters holding a sign reading, “White Supremacy Is Deadly.” Spin to the right, and you see a throng of observers, their expressions stern as the protest continues.

These vivid images are part of an eight-minute virtual-reality experience that catapults audiences into the center of the Millions March protest in New York in December. Created by two experienced directors, Chris Milk and Spike Jonze, in partnership with Vice News, the project is a virtual-reality journalism broadcast. It will make its debut on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival and in a new virtual reality mobile app called Vrse, which is available on the Vice News site.

There are three options for experiencing the project at home. The first is a virtual-reality headset, like the Oculus Rift device. The second is with the Vrse app, downloaded onto a smartphone and connected to a simple viewer, like a cardboard one that Google designed to be built on your own. Finally, viewers can download the app and watch directly on a phone, which provides a close approximation of the experience but loses some of the 3-D features.

Long the purview of the gaming world, virtual reality represents a new frontier for journalism. News reports for years have borne witness to the events shaping the world. Now, directors and reporters are experimenting with virtual-reality technologies to essentially transport people into those events. Read more on Vice and noted directors use VR to immerse viewers in news…

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