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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Call: Cognitive Models and Emotions Detection for Ambient Intelligence (COMEDAI 2015)


Cognitive Models and Emotions Detection for Ambient Intelligence (COMEDAI 2015)
Special Session of the 9th International Symposium on Intelligent Distributed Computing
7th-9th October 2015, Guimarães, Portugal

The detection and recognition of human emotions and social signals is a key issue in the development of socially intelligent systems. This interdisciplinary field has been lastly provided some applications including marketing, autism therapy for children and at-home medical care and assistance. Given the tendency of the worldwide society, the step further would be to design Ambient Intelligence systems able to take care of elderly and disabled people. That is, the combination of Ambient Intelligence (AmI), a paradigm emerging from Artificial Intelligence (AI), that responds to the actions of human beings and objects within an environment, adapting it to their needs; with emotions computing, the study and development of systems aimed at detecting, modelling and recognizing human emotions and showing empathy with people.

In the Special Session on COMEDAI we will intend to gather together people from different fields such as Ambient Intelligence, Knowledge Modelling, and Emotion Computing, for a multi-disciplinary discussion forum. Researchers are welcome to present their research, theoretical and/or practical, and/or their study of its application to this new field. The discussion will be focused on the presentation of concrete systems, implementation issues, development challenges, conclusions achieved and relevant results.

LIST OF TOPICS OF INTEREST Read more on Call: Cognitive Models and Emotions Detection for Ambient Intelligence (COMEDAI 2015)…

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Dolby dives into virtual reality with Atmos surround sound for VR

[This story from The Verge includes some interesting impressions comparing standard and Dolby Atmos audio for different VR content; only a step forward, but it’s (exciting) early days. –Matthew ]

Dolby Atmos graphic

Dolby dives into virtual reality with Atmos surround sound for VR

By Bryan Bishop
on February 26, 2015

As the momentum behind virtual reality slowly continues to build we’re seeing more traditional movie companies dip their toes into the medium. Today Dolby is announcing a partnership with Jaunt that will bring its Atmos surround sound technology to the world of VR — and it may turn out that virtual reality is even a better fit for the technology than the movie theaters it was originally designed for. Read more on Dolby dives into virtual reality with Atmos surround sound for VR…

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Call: UCDAS 2015 – 2nd IEEE Workshop on User-Centered Design and Adaptive Systems

Call For Papers

IEEE COMPSAC 2015: UCDAS: 2nd Workshop on User-Centered Design and Adaptive Systems
Taichung, Taiwan – July 1-5, 2015

Submission deadline: March 18, 2015

The 2nd IEEE International Workshop on User Centered Design and Adaptive Systems, UCDAS 2015, is co-located with COMPSAC 2015, The aim of this Workshop is to introduce the combination of different disciplines to build adaptive systems. Also, to discuss this approach and the state-of-the-art advances in research and development of the construction of user-centered adaptive systems. This Workshop is addressed to researchers from different disciplines in academia and industry, as well as practitioners, who share interests in adaptive systems design and development. The focus will be on the processes and methodologies combining techniques from these disciplines and the experiences drawn from adaptive system design practice, as well as on emergent topics.


An adaptive system changes to improve its performance by adjusting its operation to the feedback from the users. An adaptive system infers the goals and needs of users from multiple sources of information in terms of activity and interests. Research on adaptive systems should be addressed to identify new means for enriching the user experience through advances in automated reasoning, adaption and user interface design. User models are particularly important. To build adaptive systems, a combination of different disciplines is required, such as usability engineering, human-computer interaction, software engineering, system engineering, psychology, and sociology; each one providing its principles and techniques.


Fundamentals and design of adaptive systems; User Modeling and Intelligent User Interfaces; Psychological Studies; Novel Input Devices and Sensors; Conversational Systems; Frameworks and Architectures for Adaptive Supporting Platforms; User and Interaction: Information Access, Filtering, and Management; Human-Computer Interaction Design and Visualization; Software Engineering for Adaptive Systems. Read more on Call: UCDAS 2015 – 2nd IEEE Workshop on User-Centered Design and Adaptive Systems…

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Using VR to alter experience of neck pain

[I wonder how this will change physical rehabilitation in the future – manipulating perceptions of a person’s body movement can affect, and logically could be used to treat, their experience of pain; this is the press release from the University of South Australia. –Matthew ]

Woman massaging her neck

Neck pain can be changed through altered visual feedback

February 23 2015

Using virtual reality to misrepresent how far the neck is turned can actually change pain experiences in individuals who suffer from chronic neck pain, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

It may seem like our experiences of pain stem from some objective, physiological source, but research has shown that many factors — including sensory, cognitive, and emotional cues – can have a significant influence on if, when, and how we feel pain.

These new results indicate that altering the visual cues that inform the brain about the body can impact pain. Read more on Using VR to alter experience of neck pain…

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Call: “I”Robot? Rethinking the I-You Relation through Dialogical Philosophy in the Ethics of AI and Robotics (AI & Society special issue)

Call for Papers: Special Issue AI & Society
(2015) Editor (Kathleen Richardson)
“I”Robot? Rethinking the I-You relation through dialogical philosophy in the Ethics of AI and Robotics

ABSTRACTS accepted now – end of March

This Special Issue: “I”Robot? Rethinking the I-You relation through dialogical philosophy in the Ethics of AI and Robotics will address issues in dialogical philosophy (Buber), concerning the nature of “I” and “You” and the relatedness between them (Buber, Stawarska, Bakhtin, Husserl, Derrida). AI robotic scientists develop embodied agents (robots) with a (potential) viewpoint to interact with humans. We will explore what kinds of “I” models of consciousness are shaping robots. Contemporary studies in developmental psychology/psychotherapy (e.g., attachment theory and development theory), philosophy (Stawarska) and other fields are challenging the detached “I” model of subjectivity. However, the dialogical model does not propose fusion of the “I” with the “You” or a ‘Cyborg’ (Haraway) model of human-machine integration but relationship between the “I” and “You” mediated by dialogue, experience, presence and mutuality.

The Special Issue will explore if AI Robotics is excessively reliant on egocentric models of a disembodied “I” (e.g., Theory of Mind, “I” consciousness) coming into relation with another disembodied “I” as the “You” and other “She/He/It, We, You, They’. Nor does the dialogical model propose a ‘merged consciousness’ of the I-You, or I-Other (human, animal, machine, environment). To what extent can dialogical phenomenology offer new directions for considering subjectivity and a move away from the Cartesian “I” (I think therefore I am) attached to the pronoun “I”, as lone entity to reflect on human consciousness and subjectivity? (Stawarska 2009).

This special issue will draw on the ground breaking work of Martin Buber’s dialogical phenomenology of I and Thou (1937) to explore I-You and I-It. We encourage authors to submit papers on the ethics of AI and Robotics by reference to the dialogical tradition. Moreover, dialogical philosophy provides a unique framework for reflecting on the role of speech and silence, listening and talking, presence and absence, embodiment and disembodiment in radically new ways. All these themes that have significant bearing on the ways robots are developed, imagined and become part of lived human existence. Read more on Call: “I”Robot? Rethinking the I-You Relation through Dialogical Philosophy in the Ethics of AI and Robotics (AI & Society special issue)…

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Japanese owners hold funerals for ‘dead’ robot dogs

[This is a dramatic illustration of the power of the form of presence in which a medium itself is perceived as a social actor! The story is from The Japan Times, where it includes two more images. –Matthew ]

Aibo funeral

[Image: An A-Fun employee put[s] the Sony’s pet robot AIBOs at an altar prior to hold[ing] the robots’ funeral at the Kofukuji Temple in Isumi, Chiba Prefecture. | AFP-JIJI]

An afterlife for man’s best robot friend?

Feb 25, 2015

Incense smoke wafts through the cold air of the centuries-old Buddhist temple as a priest chants a sutra, praying for the peaceful transition of the souls of the departed.

It is a funeral like any other in Japan. Except that those being honored are robot dogs, lined up on the altar, each wearing a tag to show where they came from and which family they belonged to.

The devices are AIBOs, the world’s first home-use entertainment robot equipped with artificial intelligence and capable of developing its own personality.

“I believe owners feel they have souls as long as they are with them,” said Nobuyuki Narimatsu, 59, who heads an electronics repair company specializing in fixing vintage products. Read more on Japanese owners hold funerals for ‘dead’ robot dogs…

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Call: Games and Transgressive Aesthetics Workshop at DiGRA 2015

Call for Abstracts: Games and Transgressive Aesthetics Workshop at DiGRA 2015
May 14th-17th at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany


Digital games have a reputation for including excessive violence, and violent content tends to be the focal point when games become the target for public criticism. However, as interacting with the gameworld through the use of simulated violence is a convention in many games; and while game violence certainly can be experienced as unsettling, it seldom leads the game to become ”unplayable” for players. Rather, it seems that the game context contributes to reduce the offensiveness of such content. Indeed, players themselves often present this as an argument in the debate about game violence, stating “don’t take it so seriously, it is only a game”, and common – although contested – definitions establish play as something non-serious and withdrawn from everyday life.

The hypothesis that the game context works as a filter that guards the player from distress, does not go against the idea that there may be games in which the goal is to expose the player for uncomfortable ethical situations. While such games may be seen as speculative or questionable because they break social norms, they may also provoke players into reflection. The question that remains, however, is why players would intentionally put themselves under distress, and how the playful attitude may be affected by such content.

While playfulness on one hand is associated with the pleasures of exploration within a framework; and transgression on the other hand is about breaking norms by presenting the player to activities that create discomfort and thus reflection, transgression and playfulness may appear to contradict each other, running the risk of trivializing the transgression or collapsing the playfulness.

Submission instructions:

The workshop seeks to discuss the perception of transgressive content in games, both from the perspectives of the players themselves, and the perspectives presented by mainstream as well as dedicated gaming media.

We will discuss relevant theories and perspectives that may be used to better understand controversial content in games and ask at what point such content is experienced as transgressing the boundary of what feels comfortable. Questions to be explored are: How do the mainstream media and the gaming press view transgressive content? How well does this reflect the players’ perceptions of transgressive game content? Is there a discrepancy between the players’ perceptions of transgressive content and that of the media? When is game content experienced as so controversial that the sense of playfulness is disrupted, and for what reasons? Does playfulness push the boundaries for what is being experienced as transgressive? Are games a particularly good medium for transgressive content?

Since the workshop is intended to explore new ideas and directions, submission of incomplete and in-progress results are encouraged. Read more on Call: Games and Transgressive Aesthetics Workshop at DiGRA 2015…

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VR sexuality: Your fantasies may never be the same

[This is a particularly thoughtful, big-picture story about presence and sexuality, from Wired. Note the connection between immersion in books and VR, the historical perspective, the role of popular culture portrayals, the critique of some technologies and predictions for their success, and especially the explicit (no pun intended) discussion of the role of presence in mediated intimacy. Matt Jones and I argued in an article in Human Technology (pdf) that presence scholars should pay more attention to this context for presence experiences. –Matthew ]

Ela Darling - view from Oculus Rift

[Image: When Ela Darling and her collaborators filmed some test footage for the Oculus Rift, what they found wasn’t just titillating, but human.]

Virtual-Reality Porn Is Coming, and Your Fantasies May Never Be the Same

By Peter Rubin

As a kid, Ela Darling fell in love with the idea of virtual reality. This was the late ’90s, early 2000s; Johnny Mnemonic and the Nintendo Virtual Boy had already come and gone, and VR had moved from brain-busting sci-fi concept to schlocky punch line to faded cultural footnote. But still, Darling was an avid reader and D&D player, and the idea of getting lost in an immersive world—“making visual what I was already losing myself in books for,” as she puts it—was something she found not just exciting but romantic.

Not surprisingly for an active reader, Darling went on to get a master’s degree and become a librarian. Perhaps more surprisingly, she then stopped being a librarian and started acting in pornographic movies. (Yes, that means she officially became a sexy librarian. Fun fact: She has the Dewey decimal number for the Harry Potter books tattooed on her back.) And after a few years of bondage scenes, masturbation videos, and girl-on-girl movies, Darling attended the E3 videogame trade show and tried an early version of the Oculus Rift, the headset that jump-started the current VR revolution. “The first thing I think of when I hear of new technology,” she says, “is ‘How can I fuck with it?’ or ‘How can I let people watch me fucking on it?’ Usually there’s one or the other application if you think hard enough.” With Oculus, Darling didn’t have to think too hard at all; now, at 28, she’s busy forging a future as creative director (and star performer) of VRtube, a nascent online studio and distribution center for VR porn. Read more on VR sexuality: Your fantasies may never be the same…

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Call: 1st Workshop on Distributed Adaptive Systems (at ICAC 2015)

Call for Papers

DAS @ ICAC 2015
1st Workshop on Distributed Adaptive Systems
At ICAC 2015, the 12th IEEE International Conference on Autonomic Computing
Grenoble, France, July 7 2015

Paper Submission April 13, 2015
Notification May 15, 2015
Camera Ready May 22, 2015
Workshops July 07, 2015

Workshop website:
Conference website:

On the account of the recent advances in technology, computational systems have to be thought as ever growing distributed artificial environments in which requirements, constituent components and user needs dynamically change in unpredictable ways. Coping with such uncertainties represents an interesting challenge for the designer of these systems, specifically regarding how to guarantee adaptivity towards both functional and non-functional requirements, as well as autonomously handling coordination and collaboration aspects among constituent units that have to act as autonomous and heterogeneous agents. These agents more often rely on incomplete information regarding the whole system in which they are integrated, but yet, in order to foster their Self-* properties, they need to discover, learn and evolve their behavior by taking into account how other agents are performing within the considered environment.

The purpose of this workshop is therefore to create an useful forum of discussion on how Self-* properties and design & implementation concepts that are nowadays considered in Autonomic Computing literature can be extended and exploited in case of distributed autonomous systems , hence how to create adaptivity as a whole by starting from single autonomous units. Practitioners and researchers are therefore invited to submit interesting contributions both in theoretical work and real world applications so to create a fruitful discussion regarding the presented challenges and the following related topics:

  • Distributed learning and experience sharing among agents
  • Advances in Multi-Agent System coordination
  • Formal methods and languages for distributed adaptive systems
  • Modelling distributed adaptive systems
  • Collectivism in distributed adaptive systems
  • Optimization in distributed adaptive systems
  • Framework and design patterns for distributed adaptive systems
  • Bio-inspired and evolutionary approaches to distributed adaptive systems
  • Tools and simulation software for distributed adaptive systems
  • Case studies and real world applications.

All papers must represent original and unpublished work that is not currently under review. Papers will be judged on originality, significance, interest, correctness, clarity, and relevance to the broader community. Papers are strongly encouraged to report on experiences, measurements, user studies, and provide an appropriate quantitative evaluation if at all possible.

The maximum number of allowed pages is 6. Read more on Call: 1st Workshop on Distributed Adaptive Systems (at ICAC 2015)…

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Why Social Virtual Reality is worth celebrating

[This article from Road to VR not only uses the term presence but highlights many presence dimensions or types. Note that the “55% of communication is nonverbal” claim is a misapplication of Mehrabian’s work (e.g., see the 3:29 minute CreativityWorks video “Busting the Mehrabian Myth” on YouTube). –Matthew ]

interacting via VR

Why Social Virtual Reality is Worth Celebrating

February 21, 2015

This guest article comes from Chris Madsen who has been eagerly exploring the developing Social VR scene. Chris graduated from the University of Utah in psychology and has worked in the mental health field for almost 20 years. Throughout his career he has been paying close attention to how digital technology has impacted individuals, communities and society at large. Chris has also recently co-founded the Salt Lake City Virtual Reality Meetup.

When I opened my eyes I suddenly found myself in an art gallery that had been transformed into a full-blown party with thumping music, bright red helium balloons pulling at the furniture, and a menagerie of life forms, humanoid and fantastical, chatting and flitting about.

I spotted the champagne table and meandered towards it through the crowd, being careful to avoid bumping into anybody. Amused that the creators had allowed my avatar to initiate a drinking motion, I quickly slammed a few gulps chuckling at the absurdity of what was all around me.

Guests continued to teleport in; a demon, a space woman, anime characters, an invisible man, robots, a shark, a zombie, Hunter S. Thompson’s doppelganger with smoke trailing out the end of his cigarette, and even a man with a piece of fruit for a head. At one point there was a commotion and I noticed people turning their attention upwards as a large dragon entered the room, walking about on its hind legs as though trying to be human. I counted 52 avatars, the most I’d ever seen sharing a virtual space.

The room full of zany avatars was part of an event in a social virtual reality platform called VRChat. The creators were marking their first anniversary of development and celebrating ‘Social VR’ at large. Later the virtual party would migrate to JanusVR and Riftmax Theater, two other well-known platforms in the Social VR scene.

So what exactly is there to celebrate when it comes to Social VR and what makes this unique form of interaction deserving of a party? After all, we’ve been communicating digitally now for decades—how is this different? Read more on Why Social Virtual Reality is worth celebrating…

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