ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: June 2015

Call: 2nd International Workshop on Vision and Eye Tracking in Natural Environments and Solutions & Algorithms for Gaze Analysis (SAGA 2015)

Call for Papers

2nd International Workshop on Vision and Eye Tracking in Natural Environments and Solutions & Algorithms for Gaze Analysis (SAGA 2015)

Where: Center of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), Bielefeld University, Germany
When: September, 29-30, 2015

The SAGA 2015 workshop is accepting abstracts for two calls:

  1. solutions for the (semi-) automatic annotation of gaze videos,
  2. eye movement studies in natural environments as a trailblazer for gaze analysis in natural environments, social interactions, computational linguistics, consumer research, mobile eye-based interaction and eye-based context-awareness.

As a follow up event of the successfull SAGA 2013 workshop, we are providing a forum for researchers from human-human and human-computer interaction, context-aware computing, robotics, computer vision and image processing, psychology, computational linguistics, sport and consumer science, eye tracking and industry to discuss techniques and applications that go beyond classical eye tracking and stationary eye-based interaction. We want to stimulate and explore the creativity of these communities with respect to the implications, key research challenges, new techniques and application areas. The long-term goal is to create a strong interdisciplinary research community linking these fields together and to establish the workshop as the premier forum for research on automatic annotation of gaze videos and use of eye tracking in natural environments. We are currently pursuing possible options for publication of the submitted abstracts in a special issue or as an edited volume.


Oral presentation / poster call:
July, 10, 2015: Deadline for abstract submissions.
August, 7, 2015: Notification of acceptance for talks and posters.
August, 30, 2015: Early-Bird registration ends

September, 29-30, 2015: Workshop takes place at the CITEC Research Building, Bielefeld University, Germany. Read more on Call: 2nd International Workshop on Vision and Eye Tracking in Natural Environments and Solutions & Algorithms for Gaze Analysis (SAGA 2015)…

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Connected Worlds: Educational large-scale, interactive ecosystem at the NY Hall of Science

[This new educational interactive environment looks intriguing; the description is from Design I/O, where you can find a video and lots of images. For more information, see coverage in the New York Daily News  –Matthew]

Read more on Connected Worlds: Educational large-scale, interactive ecosystem at the NY Hall of Science…

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Call: Game Studies at 2016 National Popular Culture/American Popular Culture Conference

Call for Papers/Panels

Game Studies Area: 2016 PCA/ACA National Conference
Seattle, Washington, USA
March 21-25, 2016

The Game Studies area of the National Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association Conference invites proposals for papers and panels on games and game studies for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference to be held Monday, March 21 through Friday, March 25, 2016 at the Sheraton in Seattle, WA.

The database for proposal submissions opens July 1.

Below, please find:



The organizers seek proposals and papers covering all aspects of gaming, gaming culture and game studies. Proposals can address any game medium (computer, social, console, tabletop, etc) and all theoretical and methodological approaches are welcome. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • new game mediums and platforms (Facebook, iPhone/iPad/iPod, etc)
  • representation or performance of race, class, gender and sexuality in games
  • gaming culture, game specific cultures, and multicultural and cross-cultural issues
  • game development, design, authorship and other industry issues
  • game advertising, reviews, packaging, promotion, integrated marketing and other commercial concerns
  • political and legal entailments such as regulation, censorship, intellectual property
  • ludology, textual criticism, media ecology, narratology, etc as paradigms for games studies
  • player generated content in MUDs and MMORPGs, Mods, maps and machinima
  • game genres, platforms, consoles, console wars and connections to other media
  • serious games for education, business, healthcare, (military) training, etc
  • space and place in games, play spaces, virtual/physical communities, mobile gaming and localization
  • digital literacy, discourse practices, social norms and norming, the politics of play
  • public discourse/controversy over violence, militarism, sex, criminality, racism, etc in games
  • game pedagogy and classroom practices, gamification, learning as play

Read more on Call: Game Studies at 2016 National Popular Culture/American Popular Culture Conference…

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VR below the prehistoric waves: David Attenborough’s “First Life”

[David Attenborough guides you on a virtual trip through space and time, to the oceans of early Earth, at London’s National History Museum this summer (through September 24); the detailed review below is from The Register; more information and a 1:13 minute trailer is available from Wired. –Matthew]

Attenborough's First Life screenshot

Virtual reality below the prehistoric waves: David Attenborough’s First Life

A trip back in time at the Natural History Museum

20 Jun 2015, Nigel Whitfield

One way or another, Sir David Attenborough has been involved in the adoption of many key consumer technologies of recent decades, from the introduction of colour programming as BBC 2 controller, through landmark TV series such as Life on Earth, to the stunning HD of Planet Earth – and 3D nature programming for Sky.

It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the latest addition to the Natural History Museum, a virtual reality experience, also bears the Attenborough imprint, using the latest technology to engage people in a look at the very beginnings of life on earth.

A partnership between the museum, Samsung, Atlantic Productions and VR specialist Alchemy, First Life is a fifteen minute presentation, narrated by Sir David. It explores the growth of life in our oceans from the earliest multi-cellular organisms through to complex creatures like arthropods. The VR realisations are based on fossils from the museum’s own collection, to ensure that as far as possible it’s grounded in real science. Read more on VR below the prehistoric waves: David Attenborough’s “First Life”…

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Job: Postdoctoral Research Position at New York University’s Game Innovation Lab

Postdoctoral Research Position at New York University’s Game Innovation Lab

The Game Innovation Lab at New York University is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to work on game generation (the procedural generation of complete games) or other closely related topics at the intersection of artificial/computational intelligence and game design. Tasks would include collaborative research with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and PhD students at the forefront of game engineering, mentoring research students and contribute to further research proposals. The successful candidate would report to Professor Julian Togelius, and also be expected to collaborate with Professor Andy Nealen and other lab members.

The ideal candidate for this position has a PhD focusing on applying AI techniques to games, a good understanding of game design, an inquisitive and open mind, and a willingness to work on ambitious goals.

The NYU Game Innovation Lab is part of the School of Engineering and located in Downtown Brooklyn. The lab is focused on developing new technologies for games, and using technology to understand game design and playful interaction. The lab’s faculty includes leading researchers in artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, graphics and game design. A growing body of PhD students work on research problems in all of these fields, and interdisciplinary research collaboration is strongly encouraged. The lab also enjoys strong ties to the NYU Games Center, which houses leading games scholars and designers. Read more on Job: Postdoctoral Research Position at New York University’s Game Innovation Lab…

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Presence and sexuality: Sexbots evolve as RealDoll partners with Hanson Robotics

[A recent ISPR Presence News post was about developments in remote social presence in the context of sexuality; this one is about sexuality and medium-as-social-actor presence. The conclusion of the story from ExtremeTech is in line with Lombard & Jones (2013). For more information watch the 7:23 minute video from The New York Times and read a recent Reddit ask-me-anything with Matt McMullen. –Matthew]

Realbotix female head

Artificial intelligence: Coming to a sexbot near you

By Aaron Krumins on June 15, 2015

While the cynical among us knew it was only a matter of time before the rise of the sexbots, the partnering of RealDoll — maker of high end sex mannequins — with Hanson Robotics has moved that eventuality one step closer to reality.

This new venture has been dubbed Realbotix by founder and CEO Matt McMullen of RealDoll. The goal is to endow the RealDoll line of sex figurines with some basic animation, transforming them from immobile mannequins to full on androids that can follow commands and verbally respond to the user. This advanced line of sex dolls will come equipped with animatronic heads, capable of blinking and opening their mouths suggestively. The dolls will reportedly also make use of a mobile app and a virtual reality headset, whereby the physical doll provides haptic feedback for interactions taking place within the virtual reality console.

While it’s far from clear if McMullen has made any pioneering advances in either robotics or AI (unless you count the alarmingly lifelike ability for his robots to stick out their tongues), he has established a kind of beachhead for the nascent field of so-called robotica. From here we are likely to see innovations trickle in from universities and other sources of AI research to augment and expand his efforts. Read more on Presence and sexuality: Sexbots evolve as RealDoll partners with Hanson Robotics…

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Call: Learning from Fiction – Special issue of teorema

Call for Papers

Special issue of teorema: Learning from Fiction

Deadline for submissions: November 15, 2015

In ordinary critical practice, we take for granted that we can learn from fictions (literary or visual), i.e., that we can acquire new warranted beliefs on that basis. We similarly assume that we can acquire experiential knowledge – knowledge of what it is like – and knowledge-how, whether or not they differ from propositional knowledge. But can this be philosophically justified? First, empirical research suggests that we can be gullible when exposed to fictions; second, there are thorny indeterminacy issues; and thirdly, in any case, by their very nature fictions appear to put fundamental barriers to the possibility of forming warranted beliefs on their basis. teorema invites submissions on all aspects of this topic, including the following: What is the nature of the fiction/non-fiction divide, and how does it affect the possibility of acquiring knowledge from them? Are there particular topics about which fiction is more adequate to provide knowledge? Could fictions include assertions? Is the content of truth claims in fictions more indeterminate than that of flat-out assertions, and does this raise any specific concerns? How does the possibility of acquiring knowledge from fictions affect their appraisal? What philosophical lessons can be gleaned from the empirical research on this topic? Read more on Call: Learning from Fiction – Special issue of teorema…

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Brown University unveils 3D VR ‘Ultimate Reality Theatre’

[Exciting things are happening at Brown University; this story from The Boston Globe also includes a 2:43 minute video and a photo gallery. –Matthew]

YURT demo of geometry program Hypercube

[Image: Brown University graphics systems programmer Ben Knorlein demonstrated a program called Hypercube, which teaches students about geometry of the fourth dimension. Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe]

Brown University unveils 3D virtual-reality room

By Amanda Katz, Globe Staff
June 20, 2015

PROVIDENCE — In a darkened room, a group of people wearing 3-D glasses clustered around someone using a wand to draw a shape, a bit klutzily, in midair. As the virtual object grew, the spectators instinctively leaned back to get out of its way.

It was the first day of public life for the Yurt, Brown University’s immersive 3-D virtual-reality room. The $2.5 million facility, unveiled last month, is one of the most advanced of its kind in New England. And at a moment when virtual reality is poised for takeoff in the form of much cheaper home entertainment systems, its creators see the Yurt as a key site for exploration of not just math, geology, biology, and visual art, but also the potential of the medium itself.

Compared with other such rooms, the Yurt is technologically “the greatest in all kinds of ways,” said University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill computer science professor Henry Fuchs. Named for its shape and as an acronym for YURT Ultimate Reality Theatre, it features a domed ceiling, curved walls, and a thick clear acrylic floor lined with screens. Through these surfaces come approximately 100 million pixels of bright, high-resolution 3-D computer graphics, beamed by 69 stereo projectors powered by a cluster of computers. Read more on Brown University unveils 3D VR ‘Ultimate Reality Theatre’…

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Call: Workshop on Virtual Health Agents at Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) 2015

Workshop on Virtual Health Agents
Intelligent Virtual Agents conference 2015 (IVA 2015)
25 August
Delft, The Netherlands

Position paper submission: June 28, 2015

This workshop is a part of the International Conference on Intelligent Virtual agents ( The workshop will take place on the day before the main conference (25th of August 2015).


One domain in which intelligent virtual agents are becoming more popular is the health domain. With the changing demography in the western world, the health-care costs are expecting to increase. Less health care professionals will be available for more “care needy persons”. Virtual health agents could play several roles to address part of the increasing care needs. For example, they could act as virtual patients to train doctors, provide patients with information and advice in or outside health centers, or act as coaches as part of self-health management at home. This workshop will bring together researchers to discuss recent and ongoing research in their area. They will discuss conceptual and technical aspects of virtual health agent development and behavior, the relationships and interactions with humans, but also design and evaluation methods. Read more on Call: Workshop on Virtual Health Agents at Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) 2015…

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Sky Factory uses tech to bring soothing virtual sea life to Children’s Hospital

[Aside from being interesting and engaging, presence technology that brings nature into our human-made environments can have therapeutic effects. This press release from Archinect features three more images; Sky Factory has more information and the aquarium videos, and another release at Archinect contains more information about Sky Factory products and the rationale for their effectiveness. –Matthew]

SkyFactory's eSea at Tennessee hospital

[Image: Designed as a portal into larger underwater environments, eSea captures the therapeutic benefits of Heraclitean Motion, the familiar, yet random movement of living systems.]

Sky Factory and the Tennessee Aquarium Make an ēSea™ Splash at the T. C. Thompson Children’s Hospital at Erlanger

June 16, 2015 – The Sky Factory and the Tennessee Aquarium collaborated to bring ēSea, a Digital Cinema underwater portal to marine habitats, to the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, the 1st of its kind in the state. The partnership enabled the Sky Factory to film the Tennessee’s aquarium’s largest and most beautiful exhibit, the Secret Reef, as well as the Reelfoot Lake and the Flooded Amazon River exhibits.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Tennessee Aquarium and The Sky Factory for allowing our patients and guests to benefit from not only a visual experience but also an educational experience by taking our patients and guests to various underwater worlds,” said Cindy Rhodes, Chief Nursing Officer at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “Providing a natural diversion will certainly have an impact on the child’s and parents’ hospital experience.”

ēSea was designed to provide the visually soothing, therapeutic benefits of living underwater environments—restoring emotional balance, reducing anxiety, and lowering blood pressure—while submerging the observer in a deeper experience, one that enlivens our innate, genetic-based need to bond with living systems (called biophilia) by bringing the beauty of sea creatures safely indoors.

Research indicates that restorative environments, those healing to the human physiology, are defined by a nature connection. Marine life in particular exerts an alluring hold on our collective imagination. Read more on Sky Factory uses tech to bring soothing virtual sea life to Children’s Hospital…

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