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Monthly Archives: April 2016

Call: MHMC 2016 – International Workshop on Multimodal Interaction in Industrial Human-Machine Communication

Call for Papers

MHMC 2016 – International Workshop on Multimodal Interaction in Industrial Human-Machine Communication
In connection with the 21st IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation
September 6, 2016, Berlin

Deadline for submission of workshop papers: May 20


Nowadays, industrial environments are full of sophisticated computer-controlled machines. In addition, recent developments in pervasive and ubiquitous computing provide a further support for advanced activity control. Even if the exploitation of these technologies is very often committed to specialized workers, who have been purposely trained to use complex equipments, easy and effective interaction is a key factor that can bring many benefits – from faster task completion to error prevention, cognitive load reduction and higher employee satisfaction.

Multimodal interaction means using “non-conventional” input and/or output tools and modalities to communicate with a device. The main purpose of multimodal interfaces is to combine both multiple input modes – usually more “natural” than traditional input devices, such as touch, speech, hand gestures, head/body movements and eye gaze – and solutions in which different output modalities are used in a coordinated manner – such as visual displays (e.g. virtual and augmented reality), auditory cues (e.g. conversational agents) and haptic systems (e.g. force feedback controllers). Besides handling input fusion, multimodal interfaces can also handle output fission, in an essentially dynamic progress. Sophisticated multimodal interfaces can integrate complementary modalities to get the most out of the strengths of each mode, and overcome weaknesses. In addition, they can support handling different environmental situations as well as different user (sensory/motor) abilities.

Although multimodal interaction is becoming more and more common in our everyday life, industrial applications are still rather few, in spite of their potential advantages. For example, a camera could allow a machine to be controlled through hand gesture commands, or the user might be monitored in order to detect potential dangerous behaviors. On the other side, an augmented or virtual reality system could be employed to provide an equipment operator with sophisticated visual cues, where auditory/olfactory displays might be used as an additional alerting mechanism in risky environments. Besides being used in real working situations to increase the amount and quality of available information, augmented/virtual reality interaction can be also exploited to implement an effective and safe training plan.

This workshop aims at gathering works presenting different forms of multimodal interaction in industrial processes, equipment and settings with a twofold purpose:

  • Taking stock of the current state of multimodal systems for industrial applications.
  • Being a showcase to demonstrate the potential of multimodal communication to those who have never considered its application in industrial settings.

Both proposals of novel applications and papers describing user studies are welcome. Read more on Call: MHMC 2016 – International Workshop on Multimodal Interaction in Industrial Human-Machine Communication…

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3D ‘zebra crossings’ stop drivers in their tracks

[Some relatively simple uses of presence can save lives; this story is from The Architects Newspaper, where it features other images; coverage in Mashable notes that India’s transport minister tweeted on April 27 that the country will be trying out the 3D paintings, and that the use of optical illusions as speed breakers was first pioneered in Philadelphia. For more on the use of road design illusions created to increase safety, see a 2014 story from BBC News. –Matthew]

Side and driver view of 3D zebra crosswalk in India

3D “zebra crossings” stop drivers in their tracks

By Jason Sayer
April 21, 2016

Earlier this year, it was reported that Saumya Pandya Thakkar and Shakuntala Pandya, two women from Ahmedabad in East India, had come up with an imaginative solution to stop cars and let pedestrians cross the road without the aid of traffic lights. Their “zebra crossing”— rectangular volumes drawn in perspective—appeared to do the trick.

While Thakkar and Pandya may have thought they were pioneering new techniques, this strategy had already been realized in Taizhou and Xingsha in China some eight years prior. Using bright and bold colors, these “3D” roadblocks-cum-crossings span China’s roads to deceive drivers. Here, instead of using the road surface as a color like in India, blue or red is added to amplify the three dimensional effect. Read more on 3D ‘zebra crossings’ stop drivers in their tracks…

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Call: International Workshop on Emotion Representations and Modelling for Companion Technologies (ERM4CT 2016)

International Workshop on Emotion Representations and Modelling for Companion Technologies (ERM4CT 2016)
in conjunction with ACM ICMI 2016, Tokyo

Submission deadline: August 28, 2016

The major goal in human computer interaction (HCI) research and applications is to improve the interaction between humans and computers. As interaction is often very specific for an individual and generally of multimodal nature, the current trend of multi-modal user-adaptable HCI systems arose over the past years. These systems are designed as companions capable of assisting their users based on the users’ needs, preferences, personality and affective state. Companion systems are dependent on reliable emotion recognition methods in order to provide natural, user-centred interactions.

In order to study natural, user-centred interactions, to develop user-centred emotion representations and to model adequate affective system behaviour, appropriate multi-modal data comprising not just audio and video material must be available. Following its ancestor, the ERM4HCI workshop series, the ERM4CT workshop focuses on emotion representations, signal characteristics used to describe and identify emotions as well as their influence on personality and user state models to be incorporated in companion systems. The ERM4CT 2016 workshop allows the in-depth analysis of technical prerequisites, modelling aspects and applications linked to the development of affective, multi-modal, user-adapted HCI systems.

Researchers are encouraged to discuss possible interdependencies of characteristics on an intra- and intermodality level. Such interdependencies may occur if two characteristics are influenced by the same physiological change in the observed user and are especially relevant to multi-modal affective systems. Theoretical papers contributing to the understanding of emotions in order to aid in the technical modelling of emotions for companion systems are welcomed. The workshop supports discussions on the necessary prerequisites for consistent emotion representations in multi-modal companion systems.

The ERM4CT 2016 workshop is the second joint-workshop aiming at highlighting the specific issues associated with the multi-modal emotion representations needed for companion technologies. As a further highlight, this year’s workshop offers a “hands-on” session, where a dataset comprised of 10 different modalities will be made available prior to the workshop to the participants. The participants are encouraged to analyse the dataset in terms of emotion recognition, interaction studies, conversational analyses, etc. The dataset provided is a snapshot of a new multi-modal dataset (Tornow, et al., 2016). Researchers are invited to address a specific research question using this dataset and submit their results to the workshop. During the workshop, all results will be presented and discussed in a subsequent panel session. Read more on Call: International Workshop on Emotion Representations and Modelling for Companion Technologies (ERM4CT 2016)…

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Report forecasts more telepresence robots for more uses

[It looks like in addition to the many other telepresence technology formats from phones to rooms, telepresence robots will become increasingly common; this story is from Inverse, where it includes a very short video of the early Greenman Teleperated Humanoid system mentioned. –Matthew]

Hospital patient Cookie Topp attends school via VGo telepresence robot

[Image: From VGo: “Despite a diagnosis of lymphoma resulting in a bone-marrow transplant that’s left her bed-bound in the Children’s Hospital, 13-year-old Cookie Topp is going to school, doing her homework and meeting with her friends.”]

Telepresence Robots May Be Awkward Now, but Expect More of Them by 2020

Research group Tractica projects a 50 percent increase in telepresence in four years.

Lauren J. Young
April 15, 2016

By 2020, instead of Skyping with colleagues or distant friends and relatives, you may be chatting through a mobile, interactive robot. At least that’s what a new report suggests.

Telepresence robots are forecasted by the technology intelligence research firm Tractica to reach 31,600 units by 2020 — a growth rate of 49.7 percent from the current 4,200 count in 2015 — with cumulative shipments over the next five years expecting to total nearly 92,000. Telepresence robots go beyond Skype, too: These are personal and mobile teleoperatic robotic systems, meaning they are computers with wheels that you can listen and talk to.

Wendell Chun, the author of the report, expects these teleoperatic bots will roam around all sorts of industries, particularly in hospitals and schools.

“I found thousands of applications,” Chun tells Inverse. “I plotted them all out and it seemed like medical and education were the highest, but it ranges from retail to corporate offices.” Read more on Report forecasts more telepresence robots for more uses…

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Call: Simulation Based Training – The Key to Military Operational Capability Conference

Simulation Based Training – the Key to Military Operational Capability
Tuesday, 22 November 2016 – Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Royal Aeronautical Society, London, UK

Abstracts due: 6 May 2016

Military planners and policy makers, in addition to dealing with ongoing operations of various levels of intensity, face an increasingly unpredictable world which poses an unprecedented range of potential conflicts. Threats come from state and non-state actors, and emerge from breakdown and chaos in which there are not only ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. International alliances are temporarily formed for specific campaigns and may consist of both well integrated allies and of more loose cooperation with the enemy’s enemy. Threats may come in many forms including conventional, irregular, and terrorist forces.

Countering such threats requires conceptual and operational agility, and demands high levels of operational capability, flexibility, and readiness, including the ability to act in concert with ad-hoc alliance partners and other government and international organizations. However, as military spending comes under increasing pressure, live training, particularly large scale and collective training, becomes increasingly unachievable. Nevertheless, high quality is essential when training to exploit the enormous capability of the latest generations of platforms, weapons, and systems, and forces often rely on training quality to compensate for lack of ‘combat mass’.

Proven and emerging technologies now offer the capability to conduct much, if not most, operational training in simulators and synthetic networked environments, and there are many high quality training systems achieving excellent results. However, while there are often-stated aspirations for synthetic training, there is little overall vision and direction in bringing these together to meet the sorts of collective operational and defence capabilities the world situation demands. If the potential for synthetic training is to be realized, a more collective and coherent approach is needed.

This call for papers is your opportunity to shape the debate, and we will consider contributions in the following areas:-

  • Roles of air power – including ground and seaborne air components- in the emerging world order and security environment to set the scene on what training is needed for, and in what theatres, situations, and alliances
  • Synthetic Training as part of capability and readiness: UK, European and NATO perspectives, and the achievement of collective defence.
  • Military decision making and judgemental training – serious games etc
  • Force perspectives on simulation and training: rotary forces, fast jet AD and attack, air transport, air to air refuelling, E3, shipboard aircraft, etc
  • The Live Synthetic Balance and the role of embedded training
  • Mobile simulation: taking training to deployed forces, and forces at sea.
  • Mission rehearsal: who, what, where, and how?
  • Simulation in platform, weapons, and system testing and development
  • Simulation in an end-to-end training system, from selection and recruitment to the front line
  • Training device capability and fidelity; how good is good enough, and how is that validated?
  • Training for simulator instructors, role players, and exercise staff.
  • What can the military learn from civil flight crew standards and training methods, including:
    • Simulator specification, accreditation, and regulation,
    • SMS, TEM, CRM, TRMo EBT and training for competency.
    • Operational Essential Competency: adding depth and outcome measurement metrics to Mission Essential Competencies
  • Collective and networked training issues, such as:
    • Identifying the ‘training audiences’, setting training objectives, and measuring achievement.
    • Training scenarios – who decides and validates
    • Involving higher and lower levels, and non-military players.
    • Security Network technology; enabler or driver?

Please view the call for papers here. Read more on Call: Simulation Based Training – The Key to Military Operational Capability Conference…

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Two Chernobyl VR interactive documentaries take you to the disaster

[This story from The Verge describes two projects that use presence to take us to Chernobyl, with likely powerful impact; the original story includes a 3:40 minute interactive trailer for The Chernobyl VR Project and a 0:57 minute interactive trailer for Chornobyl 360. For more on the former, see coverage in Raw Story and YouTube for a 4:47 minute video; for more on the latter, see coverage in U.S. News. –Matthew]

Read more on Two Chernobyl VR interactive documentaries take you to the disaster…

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Call: Behavior Analysis and Multimedia for Children – Focus theme at Workshop on Human Behavior Understanding (HBU 2016)

Call for Papers: 7th Int. Workshop on Human Behavior Understanding (HBU 2016)
to be held in conjunction with ACM Multimedia, 16 October 2016, Amsterdam

“Focus Theme: Behavior Analysis and Multimedia for Children”

Short Description:

The Seventh International Workshop on Human Behavior Understanding, organized as a satellite to ACM Multimedia’16 will gather researchers dealing with the problem of modeling human behavior under its multiple facets (display of complex social and relational behaviors, recognition of individual or joint actions, personalization, etc.), with the focus topic of “Behavior Analysis and Multimedia for Children”.

The minimum age of computer usage is steadily getting lower, yet there are many issues open in children’s use of computers and multimedia. This workshop will solicit human behavior analysis solutions that clearly advance the field, and also to meet challenges of designing solutions with children in mind, which brings its own issues and challenges. The covered topics may span items from each of the following topic dimensions, as well as target a focus theme challenge:


  • Human Behavior Analysis Systems:
    • Action and activity recognition
    • Affect analysis
    • Social signal processing
    • Face analysis
    • Gestures and haptic interaction
    • Voice and speech analysis
    • Learning and adaptation
    • Gaze, attention and saliency
  • Theory and Methodology of Human Behavior:
    • Theoretical frameworks of behavior analysis
    • Data collection, annotation, and benchmarking
    • User studies and human factors
    • Interaction design
    • Temporal models
  • Applications:
    • Education
    • Creativity
    • Visual and digital arts
    • Games and entertainment
    • Healthcare and well-being
    • Robotics
  • Focus Theme Challenges: Behavior analysis for children:
    • Age estimation
    • Detection of abusive and aggressive behaviors, cyberbullying
    • Inappropriate content detection
    • Privacy and ethics of multimedia access for children
    • Databases collected from children
    • Monitoring children during social interactions
    • Investigations into children’s interaction with multimedia content

The HBU is organized as a full-day, single track event with invited talks, and oral presentations. Read more on Call: Behavior Analysis and Multimedia for Children – Focus theme at Workshop on Human Behavior Understanding (HBU 2016)…

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What’s virtual reality without a headset?

[Headset-based VR is becoming a ‘hot’ medium in Marshall McLuhan’s use of the term, but as discussed in this story from The Verge (which has more pictures), it’s not the only, or necessarily the most effective, way to evoke intense presence illusions. –Matthew]

'Famous Deaths' installation at Tribeca Film Festival

[Image: Person being helped into the Famous Deaths installation at the Tribeca Film Festival.]

What’s virtual reality without a headset?

Tribeca Film Festival installations push our definitions of VR

By Adi Robertson
on April 21, 2016

My first thought, when I see someone roll into the Famous Deaths morgue freezer, is I’m sure glad they don’t lock you in. It’s not until I’m about to try it out myself that I realize they actually do.

Famous Deaths is one of the Tribeca Film Festival’s most morally ambiguous, potentially offensive, and arrestingly weird interactive installations. Originally exhibited in Amsterdam, it’s a pair of stainless steel boxes plugged into a system of speakers and scent tubes. Each freezer sports a tiny digital display: JFK or Whitney Houston, for example, with an indication that the experience is “cooling” or “ready,” respectively. (Though they’re not present, there are also simulations for Princess Diana and Muammar Gaddafi.) Inside, participants experience the last four minutes of a subject’s life through a combination of sound, smell, and temperature. In a show that features dozens of virtual reality experiences, Famous Deaths isn’t VR, at least not in the usual sense of the term. But questions about what this is cut to the heart of what “VR” even means. Read more on What’s virtual reality without a headset?…

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Call: Central and Eastern European Games Studies conference

Central and Eastern European Games Studies conference
20-22 October 2016
Lublin, Poland


Much of the recent history of game studies, both in Central/Eastern Europe and elsewhere, has been invested in the construction of the field’s unique identity that sharply distinguishes it from other disciplines. Between the narratology/ludology wars of the early 21st century, the debates of the artistic status of the medium, and the predictions of cultural dominance in the years to come, game critics have devoted an extraordinary amount of discursive energy to firmly establishing the singularity of their medium, often with fervency that is both understandable given the relative youthfulness of the medium and autarkic in its overprotectiveness against incursions by scholars from other fields.

But now, the number of dedicated academic journals can already be counted in tens; the number of book volumes and conferences in hundreds; and the number of articles and reviews in thousands. The field has several vibrant academic associations and communities, boasts numerous links with the industry whose sales revenues rival Hollywood’s box office, and has been officially canonized in academia following the creation of degree and research programs at numerous universities in Asia, Europe, and North America. In fact, critics have started to emphasize the influence games have had on other media, such as film and television, while popularisers like Jane McGonigal have been preaching the gospel of universal gamification. It is now safe to open the gates and start trading again – the conference co-hosted by the auspiciously-named Centre for the Meeting of Cultures is an apt opportunity for this.

For this year’s conference, we are thus primarily interested in rediscovering older and forging new links with other disciplines, media, cultural forms, and practices. We invite participants to address how approaches, theories, and concepts borrowed from other frameworks and apparatuses can be applied to and in the study of games; to seek new bridges between games and other cultural forms and practices; and to reflect how game theories can reinvigorate discussions of film or literature. While we do not wish to re-tread the well-blazed paths of games’ connectivity to other forms and conceptions of play or reiterate the usefulness of traditional literary theories in interpreting some game narratives, we also believe that there are numerous intersections between the gaming medium and other cultural domains that have thus far received little or no critical attention.

Possible topics and angles include but are not limited to:

  • bridges between the study of games and literary studies, visual studies, and media studies (film studies, television studies, etc.);
  • transactions between game studies and art history;
  • game archaeology and the medium’s roots in earlier media;
  • narrative, philosophical, and aesthetic theories that have not been applied to games in any systematic manner;
  • not-games, game-like constructs, and border texts that defy traditional game definitions;
  • inspirations, influences, and borrowings, both thematic and formal, from other cultural forms and practices;
  • diversity of gaming communities, cultures, practices, and histories;
  • relationships between game genres and traditional genre systems;
  • bridges between games and previously unexplored or largely unexplored media and practices, such as photography, radio, or theatre and ballet;
  • two-way transactions between games and the world of advertising and marketing;
  • transmedia texts in which games constitute integral (not passively adaptive) elements;
  • avant-garde, art, and museum games;
  • the ways in which game theories can reinvigorate the experience and study of other cultural forms and practices;
  • game histories and their similarities to and differences from histories of other media;
  • critiquing and teaching strategies borrowed from other fields.

We encourage applicants to fit their own research approaches and interests into the proposed framework but are also open to all kinds and shapes of game studies papers. We welcome submissions from game scholars, educators, students, and creators. Read more on Call: Central and Eastern European Games Studies conference…

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VR in the music industry needs to be a tool, not just an experience

[Presence isn’t referenced explicitly in this interesting piece from Forbes about the role of VR in the music industry, but both applications discussed – VR as an experience and a tool – involve evoking compelling presence illusions. –Matthew]

Stubhub VR for ticket buyers

[Image: A screenshot of StubHub’s immersive virtual-reality content that gives ticket buyers a full, 3D preview of available seats. (Photo courtesy of Re/code)]

Virtual Reality In The Music Industry Needs To Be A Tool, Not Just An Experience

Cherie Hu, Contributor
April 23, 2016

Last month, I found myself at the Made in NY Media Center in Brooklyn, testing a prototype of content management platform AudioSalad’s VR player for music streaming. The product intrigued me because it seemed to challenge how the real estate for music consumption has shrunken dramatically over the past few decades, from a 12-inch vinyl record to a 375×559-pixel phone screen (or, to be more extreme, an iPod shuffle, with its meager volume of 0.48 cubic inches). Indeed, in contrast to one-off purchases of CDs with limited content, I now use nothing but my iPhone and my thumbs to navigate a practically bottomless collection of digital music on a daily basis. It’s admittedly a bit difficult for me to remember what picking up a CD feels like.

Hence, trying out AudioSalad’s VR player—which involved strapping a device to my eyes, turning around up to 270 degrees, and examining my virtual surroundings in order to choose a single song—completely threw me off-balance. This physical disorientation soon turned into fascination, however, and I became excited at the prospect of restoring physicality to what we currently take for granted as digital experiences.

Unfortunately, the conversation that the music industry tends to hold around VR only leaves me more disappointed than excited. Yes, I am beaming at the optimistic financial numbers around the technology, as is everyone else. Strategy Analytics projects revenues from global VR headset purchases to reach $895 million this year, while Digi-Capital forecasts that overall augmented/virtual reality revenue will hit $120 billion by the end of the decade.

In response to these projections, there has been an unending rush to create immersive VR experiences for music, an industry desperately in need of a revenue boost. Both Coachella and Lollapalooza have launched their own VR content that allows users to live-stream behind-the-scenes footage or even watch sets from onstage, and Universal Music Group and iHeartMedia are launching joint VR showcases around select festivals this year. The New York Times Magazine recently filmed a VR video that follows musician Syd da Kid and her band The Internet through the process of learning a new song. Other artists such as Björk and Run the Jewels have also created VR content for their music, and the medium is becoming an exciting new frontier for music composition.

Most of these examples point to building delightful experiences for the consumer or experimental artist. Let’s experience a live show while standing next to the headliner; let’s immerse ourselves in the experience of being an independent musician at work.

These are admirable goals, but there has been almost no discussion about how VR can transcend its role as a storytelling platform and serve as a tool for our everyday lives. This discrepancy is what I believe is preventing VR from growing more quickly in the music industry, just as the iPhone did not gain any sales momentum until it proved itself as a multifaceted yet efficient addition to our daily workflow. Read more on VR in the music industry needs to be a tool, not just an experience…

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