ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: March 2016

Virtual Reality roller coasters are here (and everywhere)

[This story from IEEE Spectrum provides a thoughtful and detailed description of the history and experience of riding roller coasters that incorporate VR. Note the explicit mentions of presence, beginning in the 8th paragraph; the original story includes another image, two videos and the sidebar “Virtual Reality Rollercoasters You Can Ride Now! (or Soon).” –Matthew]

Alton Towers Galactica VR (art)

[Image: Source: Los Angeles Times]

Virtual Reality Roller Coasters Are Here (and Everywhere)

The U.K.’s Alton Towers, which opens its Galactica ride this week, is one of more than a dozen amusement parks that are giving old rides new life with VR

By Kristen Clark
Posted 23 Mar 2016

Everything is black. I feel my body tilt forward, then lurch into motion. The world around me blinks into being, and I find myself floating through a long metal conduit, which opens beneath me, leaving me dangling over a massive space station inhabited by spiderlike robots. Up ahead, there’s a portal waiting to launch me across the galaxy. A synthetic voice counts down: “Three, two, one….”

I’m through the portal, and to my left a planet explodes. “You’ve just witnessed the birth of a new sun,” explains Eve, my AI tour guide. Before I can think twice about whether that’s even scientifically possible, I’m thrust through another portal, which shoots me over rivers of lava on a volcano planet. And then I’m exiting a third portal, dodging giant icicles on a frozen world that looks a lot like Krypton.

Alarms sound. From Eve’s technobabble, I gather that something’s gone wrong—something about timing, a portal closing. And then, my spacecraft rights itself and lands. I take off my Samsung Gear VR headset as a teenager in a uniform exclaims, “Welcome back, Galactinauts!”

Oh, right. I’m at Alton Towers, a theme park in Staffordshire, England.

The content may be sci-fi, but the physical experience is the real deal. On Galactica, Alton Towers’ newest attraction, which opens on 24 March, riders fly facedown around an 840-meter track, Superman-style, reaching 75 kilometers per hour and 3.5 g’s—more force than an astronaut feels during a rocket launch. In addition to all that, riders strap on virtual-reality goggles meant to transport them right out of the English countryside and into another galaxy.

Galactica isn’t the world’s first virtual reality roller coaster. It’s actually the second, or third…or sixth, depending on whom you ask. This year and next, about 20 VR roller coasters are set to debut across Europe, Asia, and North America. Most of those rides are coming from just two companies: Germany’s VR Coaster and the United Kingdom’s Figment Productions, which designed Galactica.

The point is, virtual reality roller coasters are having a moment, thanks to the availability of decent mobile VR headsets, a tech ecosystem that’s finally matured around virtual reality, and a few engineers who’ve developed a knack for being at the right place at the right time.

Simon Reveley, founder of Figment Productions, sees the arrival of VR roller coasters as another step in the VR industry’s pursuit of presence—that transcendent moment when you lose yourself in an imaginary world and forget you’re wearing a headset.

“If you’re a surfer, the ultimate thing is catching the tube in the middle of a wave,” he tells me. “In every form of entertainment and experience, there’s, like, a holy grail—there’s, like, one thing you want to get. In VR, presence is it.” Read more on Virtual Reality roller coasters are here (and everywhere)…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

ISPR News: You’re invited to Join the new ISPR Presence Community Facebook group

ISPR Presence Community Facebook group header

An important announcement:

The International Society for Presence Research has established a new group on Facebook, the ISPR Presence Community group, and you’re invited to join. As the name implies, we hope it enhances the sense of community among those who study, design, market and/or are just interested in any aspect of (tele)presence. I’ll post images and links to stories I find that don’t fit in ISPR Presence News and all group members are encouraged to post anything that they think might be of interest or value to the community. This group is completely public and of course free, and you can join by clicking on the ‘Join’ link on the group’s page, at; you need not be a member of ISPR or have attended an ISPR conference or other event. If you’re on Facebook, please consider joining us!

Read more on ISPR News: You’re invited to Join the new ISPR Presence Community Facebook group…

Posted in ISPR News | Leave a comment

Call: Designing Gameful and Ethical Experiences – DIS 2016 Workshop

Call for Papers:
Designing Gameful and Ethical Experiences
Workshop 4th June 2016 to be held in association with Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2016 Conference 4th -8th June, Brisbane, Australia

Important Dates:
Submissions by: April 7th 2016
Notifications: April 21st, 2016
Workshop: June 4th, 2016 (Part of DIS2016, June 4th-8th)

Organisers: Zachary Fitz-Walter, Sarah-Kristin Thiel, and Cody Phillips

Workshop website:
DIS2016 website:

This workshop aims to discuss the effective and ethical design of gamification, gameful and persuasive human-computer interactions. The workshop is open to both researchers and industry practitioners with an interest in gamification, gameful and persuasive computing.

You can submit an optional research paper 2-4 pages in length presenting any current or future research or industry projects related to this topic from any domain (e.g., health, education, enterprise). These papers should detail the research or industry project and if applicable discuss the domain, the problem being addressed in the domain, the target users, the design process being used, any ethical considerations, and the outcomes of any empirical studies undertaken. The paper should be formatted using the two-column SIGCHI Extended Abstract format. Submissions should be sent directly to the organisers. Note that participants must register for the conference. Papers will be selected on the basis of their relevance, quality and ability to stimulate discussion. You can further register your interest to attend via the workshop website. Read more on Call: Designing Gameful and Ethical Experiences – DIS 2016 Workshop…

Posted in Calls | Leave a comment’s jaw-droppingly detailed photogrammetric VR environments

[Here’s another clever technique for creating immersive, literally photo-realistic presence-evoking virtual environments; the story from Road to VR includes more images, and a 3:06 minute video titled “This is Not a Live Action Video, This is a VR Scene from” is available on YouTube. For more coverage, see the Just A/VR Show. –Matthew] photogrammatry VR

Inside ‘Realities’ Jaw-droppingly Detailed Photogrammetric VR Environments

By Ben Lang – Mar 11, 2016

Realities wants to transport viewers to exciting places across the globe in ways that are much more immersive than the single, flat vantage point of a 360 degree photo or video. The company is creating an efficient photogrammetry pipeline to build sometimes frighteningly realistic virtual environments that users can actually walk through.

I recently visited the Realities team to check out their very latest work. After donning a Vive Pre headset and playing around for a solid 10 or 15 minutes, I was thoroughly impressed… and I hadn’t even left the menu. Read more on’s jaw-droppingly detailed photogrammetric VR environments…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

Call: ICMI 2016, the 18th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction

Call for Long and Short Papers

ICMI 2016, the 18th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction
November 12-16, 2016
Tokyo, Japan

Full details including Calls for Demos, Grand Challenges, Workshops and Doctoral Consortium can be found at

The 18th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI 2016) will be held in Tokyo, Japan.  ICMI is the premier international forum for multidisciplinary research on multimodal human-human and human-computer interaction, interfaces, and system development. The conference focuses on theoretical and empirical foundations, component technologies, and combined multimodal processing techniques that define the field of multimodal interaction analysis, interface design, and system development.

This year, ICMI welcomes contributions on machine learning for multimodal interaction as a special topic of interest. ICMI 2016 will feature a single-track main conference which includes: keynote speakers, technical full and short papers (including oral and poster presentations), demonstrations, exhibits and doctoral spotlight papers. The conference will also feature workshops and grand challenges. The proceedings of ICMI’2016 will be published by ACM as part of their series of International Conference Proceedings and Digital Library. Topics of interest include but are not limited to: Read more on Call: ICMI 2016, the 18th International Conference on Multimodal Interaction…

Posted in Calls | Leave a comment

Virtual reality movie theaters are now a thing

[What is said to be the world’s first permanent VR theater has opened, as detailed in this story from VentureBeat; the original includes more images and a 1:40 minute video; coverage in Architectural Digest identifies the initial offerings: “Moviegoers have the option, for example, of watching In Your Face, a film specifically developed for the VR Cinema. The movie looks at the moral dilemma of the Syrian refugee crisis and asks viewers what they would do if a refugee showed up at their door, unannounced. There are lighter options, too. Invasion! is an animated film featuring a rabbit and a UFO. VR Cinema also has packages intended for kids.” –Matthew]

VR Cinema in Amsterdam

Virtual reality movie theaters are now a thing

Paul Sawers
March 5, 2016

Virtual reality (VR) was the talk of the town at Mobile World Congress (MWC) last month, and it has become increasingly clear that VR will be the hot technology trend of 2016. A great deal supports that assertion — Samsung and Six Flags are creating VR roller coasters, while seemingly every tech company is looking to claim a piece of the VR pie, including HTC, Facebook, Google, Intel, and maybe even Apple.

The latest industry to lend credence to the notion that VR will swallow the world is cinema. News emerged this week that a company based in the Netherlands is introducing what it touts as the first permanent virtual reality movie theater, with the aptly named VR Cinema opening for business in Amsterdam following a successful pop-up cinema tour of Europe last year. Further permanent outlets are planned for later this year in Berlin, London, Barcelona, and Paris.

So what exactly can you expect from a night out at the VR Cinema? Read more on Virtual reality movie theaters are now a thing…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

Job: “Measuring behaviour during real and synthetic social interactions across cultures” – Funded PhD studentship at Edge Hill University

Funded PhD studentship in Virtual Reality and Games
Measuring behaviour during real and synthetic social interactions across cultures
Edge Hill University
Ormskirk, Lancashire, United Kingdom

PhD funded through the Graduate Teaching Assistant scheme
Supervisors: Prof Daniela Romano (Computing), Prof Geoff Beattie (Psychology), Dr Ardhendu Bahera (Computing)

Closing Date: Sunday 10 April 2016


When Edge Hill was awarded the University of the Year title for 2014/15, Times Higher Education described it as “a great success story…an institution that improves and impresses year after year”. The award recognised our outstanding achievements in student satisfaction, staff engagement, graduate employment and innovation as well as our strengthening research profile, investment and growth. It also celebrated Edge Hill University’s distinct role in “transforming lives” – reflecting a distinctive philosophy of creating opportunity from excellence.

Based on an award-winning campus in West Lancashire, and voted Best University Workplace 2015, Edge Hill University offers a stimulating and empowering environment for ambitious and high performing professionals.

Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE), Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), Postgraduate Medical Institute (PGMI):

The University is home to a large and diverse group of disciplines with a track record of excellence in research, much of which crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. We are particularly keen to continue to build our research capacity, and welcome applications for up to 6 PhD studentships in specified subject areas linked to one of the University’s three Research Institutes. All the studentships will be combined with Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs).


Graduate Teaching Assistants hold a unique position in the University, being both registered students and carrying out teaching/teaching support duties (of up to 6 hours per week on a term time only basis per annum subject to the needs of the particular course/module).

Payment for teaching hours will be in the region of £8,300 per annum and each GTA will receive a ‘package’ which includes a combined salary (for teaching or support to teaching as appropriate) and full waiver of postgraduate tuition fees as well as a scholarship of in the region of £5,500 per annum. Limited postgraduate student accommodation is also available on campus (subject to availability and charged at standard rates). Research proposals are invited on:

Measuring behaviour during real and synthetic social interactions across cultures:

Emotions and social intelligence play an important role in our social interactions, and shape our expressions and reactions. We are often unaware of how our non-verbal behaviour and physical reactions disclose our feelings and shape the response of our interlocutors.

As part of the digital revolution we are experiencing a change in the manner in which social interaction take place, being those often non-collocated and technology mediated. In addition we are experiencing a globalization of cultures and increased diversity that puts at test our unconscious biases. Having the ability to deal with these differences is an essential skill in work and in our everyday life.

This PhD research will develop a novel computer-based solution for measuring emotional reactions and behaviour during real and simulated social interactions with diversity, and drive the reaction of a simulated human in order to train people in dealing with diversity.

Novel vision and physiological monitoring and artificial intelligence techniques will be applied to understand the human interlocutors and tailor the reactions of the diverse simulate human. The system effectiveness will be tested with real users and the interactions evaluated.

In particular the project will encompass the following areas of research: virtual reality, vision, affective and social psychology research, in which the supervisory team has a vast experience.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Professor Daniela Romano (Department of Computing) at

Read more on Job: “Measuring behaviour during real and synthetic social interactions across cultures” – Funded PhD studentship at Edge Hill University…

Posted in Jobs | Leave a comment

How VR and presence can enhance the life of older adults

[Designing presence experiences for older people, as with any demographic, has both challenges and potential benefits. This story is from the Wall Street Journal’s Experts blog; the image comes from a November 11, 2015 press release via Hypergrid Business about the Honor 360 program, which brings “National Memorials to those aging and disabled military veterans who cannot make the trip.” –Matthew]

Veteran with Google Cardboard headset

[Image: Veteran with Google Cardboard headset (Image courtesy Veterans United Foundation)]

How Virtual Reality Can Enhance the Life of Older Adults

By Marc Agronin
Mar 21, 2016

Marc E. Agronin is a geriatric psychiatrist at Miami Jewish Health Systems and the author of “How We Age” and the newly released “The Dementia Caregiver: A Guide to Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurocognitive Disorders.”

My three teenage boys recently attempted what might seem a cruel experiment, teaching their 75-year-old grandmother to play one of their videogames. They sat her down in front of the wide-screen, high-definition TV, wrapped her hands around the multibuttoned control, gave her a quick lesson on how to walk, jump, duck and shoot several high-powered weapons with a few flicks and twists of her fingers, and then set her off into a virtual world of mayhem.

The experiment didn’t last long.

My mother could not comprehend the point of all of the shooting, leaping and thievery inherent to the game, nor could she contort her hands quickly enough to survive more than a few seconds in the brutal urban wasteland. My oldest son remained sanguine at the sight of his battle-shocked grandma. “Don’t worry, Meema,” he advised, “just wait until we have true virtual-reality headsets to use. Then you’ll get the hang of it.”

I don’t think so. Smaller, cheaper and more awesome headsets in development will no doubt flood the market in coming years, but seniors will have no use for them if gaming is the main purpose. But more useful applications will be those that integrate virtual digital images and sounds with everyday life, allowing the wearer to interact with their environment in novel ways–such as seen with the augmented reality of Google Glass.

For seniors, one can imagine several exciting possibilities: Read more on How VR and presence can enhance the life of older adults…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment

Call: Videogame Cultures – 8th Global Meeting

Videogame Cultures
8th Global Meeting

Call for Presentations 2016

Monday 5th September – Wednesday 7th September 2016
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

This year’s Videogame Cultures will explore various ways in which videogame culture and genres develop within the framework of five thematic tracks. As the videogame development and videogame cultures are highly complex and variant phenomenon, this often leads to the overlap of the issues across themes, so we are inviting participants of all backgrounds (academic, developer, producer, player, fan etc.) to submit their proposals. The potential participants are encouraged to think broadly within and across thematic tracks; the submissions shall address topics and questions such as (though not limited to) those listed further:

1) Gameplay Ethics:
Principles of Ethical Game Design. Ethics of Experience. Role of Agency. Games as Empowerment. Modes of limited/guided/free choice to act. Ethical Fun.

2) Gender and Gameplay: How are changing the players demographics?
Love (Romance) Sex in Videogames. Socializing and gender inequality (sexual harassment) in the virtual gaming environments.
Case Studies (Gamer Gate; Post-Rapelay Design in Japan; Dead or Alive Xtreme3).

3) Affective Turn in Games Studies:
How is the affective turn reflected in computer game studies and videogame design?
What’s the role of affect and emotion in the experience of play and how computer game design implements emotion (or fails to do so)?

4) Games for Virtual Reality:
Games with meaning. Social Impact Simulations. 2016 has been expected as a year zero in the implementation of virtual reality technology for gaming. HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony Playstation VR and other VR hardware is about to hit the market this season, but game developers and experience designers have been developing new forms of gameplay already for many years. How will virtual reality change the principles of current gameplay? What is the future of immersion and embodiment?

5) Gamification/Ludification:
Studying the models of gameplay have become influential trend beyond videogame studies. Playful elements and functional models are built in many applications even in economics or social sciences. We would like to explore how playful elements have changed the interaction between the user and serious applications.

Other topics related to above mentioned areas include:

Videogames and Gaming:

  • Theories and Concepts of Gaming. Empowerement.
  • Videogames beyond Entertainment, Convergence Culture
  • Space of Videogames.
  • Multidisciplinary Approaches to Videogame Analysis.

Designer´s Perspective:

  • (R)evolutionary Game Design
  • How to overcome a dictate of fun
  • Music and Sound Design for Games
  • Post-mortems

Videogame Cultures:

  • Usage Trends and Emerging Practices in Online and Offline Gaming.
  • Games as Cultural Artefacts.
  • Pervasive Gaming.
  • Studying Fan Cultures. Stardom of Fanboy. What means Fun.

Subsequently we encourage submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, best practice showcases, how-to sessions, live demonstrations, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement. Read more on Call: Videogame Cultures – 8th Global Meeting…

Posted in Calls | Leave a comment

Augmented reality, holographical telepresence and a future without screens

[In a widely praised TED Talk last month Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said “I believe our children’s children will grow up in a world devoid of two-dimensional technology… I can see holographical telepresence in our future.” This story is from IndustryWeek; there’s no video of the talk yet but for more background, see an insider’s post in the Reality Prime blog. –Matthew]

Alex Kipman at TED 2016

[Image: From GeekWire]

Augmented Reality Looks to a Future Without Screens

Still in development, the Microsoft HoloLens and other augmented reality devices could send our desktops, laptops, tablets and even smartphones into the Dumpster of irrelevancy.

Feb 19, 2016 Agence France-Presse

Microsoft inventor Alex Kipman was joined by holograms at a renowned TED gathering Thursday as he gave a glimpse into a future where computer screens are relics.

Kipman slipped on HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headgear that his team is readying for market and became a wizard of sorts, calling forth magical landscapes, cold-hard data, and even summoning the hologram of a NASA scientist for a chat.

Kipman spoke of HoloLens and other augmented-reality devices as a step in an evolution to a time when pecking at smartphone screens or computer keyboards are tales from generations past.

“I am talking about freeing ourselves from the two-dimensional confines of traditional computing,” said Kipman, the creator behind Kinect motion-tracking accessories for Xbox video game consoles. “We are like cave people in computer terms. We barely discovered charcoal and started drawing the first stick figures in our cave.” Read more on Augmented reality, holographical telepresence and a future without screens…

Posted in Presence in the News | Leave a comment
  • Find Researchers

    Use the links below to find researchers listed alphabetically by the first letter of their last name.

    A | B | C | D | E | F| G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z