ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: June 2016

Call: “Arts, Aesthetics, and Performance in VR and Telepresence” – Special issue of Presence

Call for Papers

“Arts, Aesthetics, and Performance in VR and Telepresence”
Special Issue of Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments

Guest Editors:
Myounghoon “Philart” Jeon (Michigan Tech)
Paul Fishwick (University of Texas at Dallas)

Submission deadline: November 1, 2016


Art and technology have a similar origin, and until the 17th century were not differentiated from each other (the Latin word “ars” – art – included crafts and sciences). Since then, they have diverged, but with the rapid technological advancement of the current era, art and technology have begun to be reintegrated. Recently, the application of computing to aesthetics (or “art and design”) has proliferated. Thanks to new technologies, we can expand the perceptual experiences of our existing senses and can even create novel perceptual dimensions that have never been imagined – new presence. Conversely, computing and technology can be influenced by arts and aesthetics, in what we call “aesthetic computing”. The application of art theory and practice to computing provides an opportunity to explore more creative media, making the concept of computing more accessible and promoting personalization and customization of computing structures. The trend to integrate art and technology is pervasive in formal education: STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is evolving into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) by adding art and design to the equation.

This year, the 25th anniversary of the journal Presence, may well be the first year of a new virtual reality era, with a plethora of new and updated virtual reality devices and technologies (Oculus DK, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, etc.). Given the paradigm shift from cognitivism into embodiment, the human body now has more opportunity for representation in computing (gesture interaction, tangible user interface, etc.) than at any previous time. In this line, virtual reality, which provides “presence” and immersiveness, is becoming more important for embodied interactions. Scientists and technologists can learn interaction techniques and strategies from body expression experts – “artists”; and virtual reality can provide an integrative, dynamic platform for arts and performances, a living synthesis of which German composer Richard Wagner once dreamed in his vision of “gesamtkunstwerk” – comprehensive work of art. We hope this special issue can serve as a good step towards that goal.

TOPICS OF INTEREST INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO: Read more on Call: “Arts, Aesthetics, and Performance in VR and Telepresence” – Special issue of Presence…

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Study: Do humans trust robots too much?

[Presence isn’t investigated directly but clearly plays a role in a study by an impressive Harvard senior about how much and why people trust robots; context obviously matters and it’ll be important to investigate how the results change as robots become more commonplace. The story from Harvard University News features more images and a 2:04 minute video. –Matthew]

Serena Booth with cookie delivery robot

[Image: Serena Booth and her robot, Gaia, in its cookie-delivery disguise. (Photo by Adam Zewe/SEAS Communications.)]

In automaton we trust

Student examines the issue of over-trusting robotic systems

By Adam Zewe
May 25, 2016

If Hollywood is to be believed, there are two kinds of robots, the friendly and helpful BB-8s, and the sinister and deadly T-1000s. Few would suggest that “Star Wars: the Force Awakens” or “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” are scientifically accurate, but the two popular films beg the question, “Do humans place too much trust in robots?”

The answer to that question is as complex and multifaceted as robots themselves, according to the work of Harvard senior Serena Booth, a computer science concentrator at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. For her senior thesis project, she examined the concept of over-trusting robotic systems by conducting a human-robot interaction study on the Harvard campus. Booth, who was advised by Radhika Nagpal, Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science, received the Hoopes Prize, a prestigious annual award presented to Harvard College undergraduates for outstanding scholarly research.

During her month-long study, Booth placed a wheeled robot outside several Harvard residence houses. While she controlled the machine remotely and watched its interactions unfold through a camera, the robot approached individuals and groups of students and asked to be let into the keycard-access dorm buildings. Read more on Study: Do humans trust robots too much?…

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Jobs: Multiple postdoc and funded PhD student positions in VR/AR at University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The Emerging Analytics Center (EAC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR)

Postdoctoral Research Associate Positions

The Emerging Analytics Center (EAC) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) has two (2) 3-year funded Postdoctoral Research Associate positions in the areas of virtual and augmented reality and interactive technologies.

We are seeking highly creative and motivated individuals that would like to start their research career in VR/AR at the EAC. Candidates need to have a strong background in interactive computer graphics or related fields (Gaming, HCI, virtual reality); good programming skills and experience in C++, Python, OpenGL; and, familiarity with visualization tools and game engines (ranging from tools such as Paraview, VMD, ArcGIS, to Unity and Unreal Engine). Candidates must have a strong level of spoken and written English and must be able to work both independently and in a team in a multidisciplinary environment. The positions have a great deal of flexibility for candidates to pursue research in areas of their interest. Candidates will also have the opportunity to define technology acquisitions at EAC in order to support research activities. There could be a possibility of transferring to a tenure-track faculty position at the completion of the postdoctoral work.

Candidates will work under the direction of Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira and Dr. Dirk Reiners in a variety of applied research projects in virtual reality, augmented reality, visual analytics, modeling and simulation, and training. One of the primary expectations for candidates is their ability to generate publishable papers from the research projects under their responsibility.

For more information and how to apply go to:

Funded PhD Student Positions Read more on Jobs: Multiple postdoc and funded PhD student positions in VR/AR at University of Arkansas at Little Rock…

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The future of talking to and with technology

[He doesn’t use the terms social presence, CASA or medium-as-social-actor presence, but this piece from the Shelly Palmer blog includes some interesting insights and questions about them (and some relevant science-fiction references). –Matthew]

Google Home and Amazon Echo

I’ve Talked to the Future and It Talked Back

by Shelly Palmer
May 21, 2016

I love Alexa, the Natural Language Processing (NLP) system in my Amazon Echo. She wakes me up every morning, she knows my schedule, she can control many of my z-wave and Zigbee compatible devices (switches, outlets, etc.), she can tell me the temperature and weather forecast, she can play any piece of music available on Amazon Prime, she can play me an “A” (via a skill called The Pianist), and she’s the perfect oven timer. I love her so much (and, as we shall discuss, “love” is an interesting way to describe our relationship), I was going to order an Echo for every room in my house – until I saw a picture of my new love to be … Google Home.

For all that is lovable about Alexa, (an app store full of skills and unmatched shopping assistance on Amazon) you must learn how to ask her for many of the things the system can access. And while you use natural language to accomplish these requests, the trigger phrases do not always come naturally.

Google Home is the child of Google Now – and “OK, Google” almost always delivers exactly what I’m looking for. When Google combines Google Assistant, Google Now and everything that led up to Parsey McParceface (Google’s open source natural language parser) into one neat package, Alexa will have some serious competition. The good news is that Alexa is evolving daily and the competition from Google Home will be good for everyone, including Siri, Cortana and every other well-funded Natural Language Processing (NLP) interface. In the very near future, we will talk to everything and everything will talk back.

Cool and Creepy Read more on The future of talking to and with technology…

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  • Find Researchers

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

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