ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Call: 7th Irish Conference on Game-Based Learning (iGBL 2017)

Call for Participation

iGBL 2017
The 7th Irish Conference on Game-Based Learning
Cork City, Ireland
22nd – 23rd June 2017

Abstract submission deadline: 22nd of February

The 7th Irish Conference on Game-Based Learning (iGBL2017) will be hosted in Cork City at the Clayton Hotel on the 22nd and 23rd June 2017.

Contributions are welcomed from a wide range of topics and may be research or practitioner-based.

We welcome abstracts from a wide range of stakeholders, including researchers, instructors, or students, who will have the opportunity to conduct workshops, present research results, or provide insights on how they managed to design or use games for educational or motivational purposes.


The symposium will include (but is not restricted to) the following topics:

Pedagogy, Educational and Social issues

  • Pedagogical/learning theories for game-based learning
  • Evaluation of game-based learning
  • Assessment in game-based learning
  • Integrating games into the curriculum
  • Games to teach arts, science, or business
  • Social and collaborative aspects of game-based learning
  • Multi-modal aspects of game-based learning (e.g. audio, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc)
  • Motivational aspects of game-based learning
  • Gender/age/cultural issues
  • Ethical concerns of game-based learning (e.g. young children, adolescents, etc)
  • Achieving sustainable impact with game-based learning

Gamification and Serious Games

  • Serious games and gamification in different sectors (e.g., primary, secondary and higher education, corporate learning, training)
  • Gamification within the industry and at the customer interface
  • Organizational issues when implementing games

Creative Issues in Game Development

  • Designing games for learning
  • Best practices in game development
  • Alternative controls/ interfaces for games
  • Technologies, tools and platforms for developing games for learning
  • Technologies for mobile and multi-user games for learning
  • Prototyping and/or playtesting
  • User Interface and User Experience in games
  • Narrative/role-playing in game-based learning
  • Developing characters & animations for learning games

SUBMISSION TYPES Read more on Call: 7th Irish Conference on Game-Based Learning (iGBL 2017)…

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The Kissenger lets you smooch a loved one from afar

[If you’re away from loved ones this holiday weekend, there’s always the Kissenger (!). This story is from IEEE Spectrum, where it features a second image. By the way, don’t confuse this Kissenger with the closely related Lovatics robot Kissenger. Here’s wishing all of us a healthy, safe, productive, and most of all, happy 2017. –Matthew]

[Image: With the Kissenger, video chats could be sealed with a kiss. Photo: Emma Yann Zhang.]

Robotic Kiss Transmitter Lets You Smooch a Loved One From Afar

By Eliza Strickland
Posted 23 Dec 2016

If you can’t be with your loved ones this holiday season, perhaps you’ve told them that you’re sending a kiss. But if you could really do just that—send a kiss by smashing your lips against a rubber pad that’s attached to your smartphone—would you want to?

The Kissenger (so named because it’s a “mobile kiss messenger”) could give you that awkward option. The two-way device, which allows users to simultaneously send and receive the sensation of a kiss, comes from researchers in London who work on haptics, the science of touch. Emma Yann Zhang says her kissing machine is intended to overcome problems inherent in long-distance relationships. The Kissenger, she wrote in a recent paper, provides “effective communication of deep emotions and intimacy through a multisensory internet communication experience.” Read more on The Kissenger lets you smooch a loved one from afar…

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Job: Research Associate for WeDraw HCI project at UCL Interaction Centre

Please find information below about a Research Associate position on Human-Computer Interaction at the UCL Interaction Centre. (WeDraw project). Please forward to anyone who may be interested – the deadline is 6th Jan 2017.

Research Associate in Human-Computer Interaction – Ref:1614112
Division of Psychology and Language Sciences

University College London (UCL) Interaction Centre

Grade 7
Hours – Full Time
Salary (inclusive of London allowance) – £34,056 – £36,923 per annum

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate to work as part of a multidisciplinary group within the EU-funded project weDraw. WeDraw is a 2-year research project that brings together European partners from industry and university to explore how multi-modal and multi-sensory technology can support the learning of mathematical and geometrical concepts in children.

The position is based at the UCL Interaction Centre UCLIC: UCLIC is a Centre of Excellence in Human-Computer Interaction drawing its members from both UCL’s Computer Science Department and the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences.

Under the supervision of Prof Nadia Berthouze and Dr Paul Marshall, the post holder will be responsible for the development of body sensing, recognition and feedback technology to facilitate the exploration through movement, sound and touch of mathematical, geometrical and physical concepts. The post holder will be also involved in data collection and evaluation studies with children and their teachers to support the development and testing of the software. The post holder will also contribute to the dissemination of the research through publications in academic conferences and journal papers as well as demonstration at academic and public events.

The post is available for 22 months in the first instance with the start date 1st March 2017.

Applicants must have obtained a degree in Computer Science and have a PhD in a related area or be expected to obtain a PhD award soon after the start date. Read more on Job: Research Associate for WeDraw HCI project at UCL Interaction Centre…

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Dimitri Williams: Community is the ‘killer app’ missing from virtual reality

[Dimitri Williams argues that social presence is more important than spatial presence in this opinion column from the Los Angeles Times. –Matthew]

[Image: Mark Zuckerberg on a Facebook Messenger phone call with his wife Priscilla Chan while in VR. From the October 2016 story “Facebook Shows Us The Future of Social VR” in 3D VR Central.]


Community is the ‘killer app’ missing from virtual reality

By Dmitri Williams (Associate Professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism specializing in games, communities and data)
December 27, 2016

I have played with several virtual reality systems over the last few years, but just recently bought my own PlayStation VR headset for my family. It’s pretty whiz-bang. Although VR still has kinks (including motion sickness for many users), it’s impressive how well even these first-generation consumer products convey what researchers call “presence,” the feeling of truly being transported somewhere else. I have piloted Starfighters through dogfights, descended through a coral reef and walked through virtual theme parks.

If only it weren’t so lonely in all these beautiful locales.

The social aspect of the Internet and games has been my field of research for 15 years. I’ve run dozens of experiments and analyzed the “big data” of detailed play records from billions of gamers. What I consistently find is that the social aspect of a new technology — how it enables, restricts or encourages us to connect with each other — matters more than just about everything else. Read more on Dimitri Williams: Community is the ‘killer app’ missing from virtual reality…

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Call: eNTERFACE’17 – 13th International Summer Workshop on Multimodal Interfaces

Call for Papers

eNTERFACE’17 – 13th International Summer Workshop on Multimodal Interfaces
Porto, Portugal
July 3rd to 28th, 2017

Submission deadline: 13 January 2017

Following the success of the previous eNTERFACE workshops held in Mons (Belgium, 2005), Dubrovnik (Croatia, 2006), Istanbul (Turkey, 2007), Paris (France, 2008), Genova (Italy, 2009), Amsterdam (Netherlands, 2010), Plzen (Czech Republic, 2011), Metz (France, 2012), Lisbon (Portugal, 2013), Bilbao (Spain, 2014), Mons (Belgium, 2015), Twente (Netherlands 2016), the Digital Creativity Centre (CCD) of the Portuguese Catholics University have the pleasure to host eNTERFACE’17, the 13th Summer Workshop on Multimodal Interfaces, in Porto, Portugal from July 3rd to 28th, 2017.

eNTERFACE workshops aim at establishing a tradition of collaborative, localized research and development work by gathering, in a single place, a team of senior project leaders in multimodal interfaces, researchers, and (undergraduate) students, to work on a pre-specified list of challenges, for 4 weeks.

The eNTERFACE’17 committee now invites researchers to submit project proposals that will be evaluated by the scientific committee. All the information asked to submit a project is available on the website of the workshop ( The proposals should contain a full description of the project’s objectives, required hardwares/softwares and relevant literatures.

Participants are organized in teams, attached to specific projects, working on free software. Each week will typically consist of working sessions by the teams on their respective projects plus a tutorial given by an invited senior researcher and a presentation of the results achieved by each project group. The last week will be devoted to writing an article on the results obtained by the teams plus a big session where all the groups will present their achievements.

Proceedings are expected to be published by CITAR Journal. CITAR Journal was recently (July 2016) accepted for inclusion in a new index of the Web of Science (WoS) Core Collection: the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), and has also been accepted for indexing by Elsevier’s Scopus.


Although not exhaustive, the submitted projects can cover one or several of the topics listed below: Read more on Call: eNTERFACE’17 – 13th International Summer Workshop on Multimodal Interfaces…

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Florida pediatrician using VR, presence to offer ‘flinch free vaccine experience’

[This story from WPTV is about a variation on the increasingly well-regarded idea of using distraction via presence to ease the experience of pain (e.g., see Kenney and Milling’s recent meta-analysis). The original story features two videos including the 2:35 minute news report, which is also available on YouTube. –Matthew]

Boca Raton pediatrician’s office offers ‘flinch free vaccine experience’

Stephanie Susskind
Dec 27, 2016

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Imagine being transported off the ground or even out of this world, all while sitting in your doctor’s office.

That’s what one Palm Beach County pediatrician is doing for his patients to ease their fears about getting a shot.

Dylan Perlin, 11, got a booster shot and didn’t even know it, because he was wearing virtual reality goggles.

“It was really weird, I felt like I was between outer space and the earth’s atmosphere. I felt nothing. All I felt was cold and buzzing and then it was done!” said Dylan.

Dr. Chad Rudnick at VIPediatrics in Boca Raton now uses the virtual reality goggles to give patients what he calls the “flinch free vaccine experience.”

“If we can reduce the level of anxiety or needle phobia or needle anxiety, that’s what we want to do,” said Rudnick. Read more on Florida pediatrician using VR, presence to offer ‘flinch free vaccine experience’…

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Job: Reader/Senior Research Lectureship at Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University, UK

[Follow the link for information on other available positions. –Matthew]

Reader / Senior Research Lectureship
Knowledge Media Institute (KMi)
The Open University, UK
Ref: 13175 – Based in Milton Keynes
Permanent position

Closing date for applications: Thursday 26 January 2017

The Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) is one of the top research centres in the world in the area of knowledge and media technologies – see details of our work at  The role of this new position is to strengthen KMi’s international research reputation and in particular we expect the successful applicant to pursue a robust and innovative research agenda in one or more of these strategic research areas:

  • Data Science – Machine Learning, Analytics, Big Data, Data Visualization, Blockchain Technologies;
  • Internet of Things – Smart Objects, Wearable Computing, Ambient Intelligence, Sensor Networks, Smart Cities;
  • New Media Technologies – New Media for Collaboration and Learning, Interfaces, Augmented Reality, Novel Interaction Techniques.

Applicants are expected to have an excellent international standing as evidenced by substantial publications, a proven ability to acquire and carry out research projects, and demonstrable experience of leading and developing research groups. Read more on Job: Reader/Senior Research Lectureship at Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University, UK…

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Perils of presence: VR allows the most detailed, intimate digital surveillance yet

[As much potential as they have for good, the diffusion of VR and other presence-evoking technologies in society raises critically important ethical issues; this story is from The Intercept and includes a quote from our colleague Andrea Stevenson Won; the original version features a series of eerie animations. –Matthew]

[Image: From an animation by Scott Gelber for The Intercept]


Virtual Reality Allows the Most Detailed, Intimate Digital Surveillance Yet

December 23 2016
Joshua Kopstein (additional research: Jeremiah Johnson)

“WHY DO I look like Justin Timberlake?”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on stage wearing a virtual reality headset, feigning surprise at an expressive cartoon simulacrum that seemed to perfectly follow his every gesture.

The audience laughed. Zuckerberg was in the middle of what he described as the first live demo inside VR, manipulating his digital avatar to show off the new social features of the Rift headset from Facebook subsidiary Oculus. The venue was an Oculus developer conference convened earlier this fall in San Jose. Moments later, Zuckerberg and two Oculus employees were transported to his glass-enclosed office at Facebook, and then to his infamously sequestered home in Palo Alto. Using the Rift and its newly revealed Touch hand controllers, their avatars gestured and emoted in real time, waving to Zuckerberg’s Puli sheepdog, dynamically changing facial expressions to match their owner’s voice, and taking photos with a virtual selfie stick — to post on Facebook, of course.

The demo encapsulated Facebook’s utopian vision for social VR, first hinted at two years ago when the company acquired Oculus and its crowd-funded Rift headset for $2 billion. And just as in 2014, Zuckerberg confidently declared that VR would be “the next major computing platform,” changing the way we connect, work, and socialize.

“Avatars are going to form the foundation of your identity in VR,” said Oculus platform product manager Lauren Vegter after the demo. “This is the very first time that technology has made this level of presence possible.”

But as the tech industry continues to build VR’s social future, the very systems that enable immersive experiences are already establishing new forms of shockingly intimate surveillance. Once they are in place, researchers warn, the psychological aspects of digital embodiment — combined with the troves of data that consumer VR products can freely mine from our bodies, like head movements and facial expressions — will give corporations and governments unprecedented insight and power over our emotions and physical behavior. Read more on Perils of presence: VR allows the most detailed, intimate digital surveillance yet…

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Job: Full professor in Technologies for Games at Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Full professor in Technologies for Games (0.8­1.0 FTE)
Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Application deadline: January 15, 2017


The Faculty of Science at Utrecht University is seeking to appoint a full professor in Technologies for Games to complement and reinforce existing strengths in Game Technology within the faculty. The appointee should have significant expertise in game technology, specifically in any of the fields of animation, simulation, rendering/visualization or modelling. She/he will develop new initiatives, aiming at research programs in Game Technology and play a significant role in the strongly established international scientific communities in this domain. She/he will lead the acquisition of external research funds, both at the national and international levels, and the dissemination, of research results and its applications, to the relevant research communities. The Full Professor has a leading role in teaching and supervision. She/he will contribute to the department’s curriculum development at BSc, MSc and PhD levels. The Full Professor plays an active role in the leadership and management of the department and/or faculty.

QUALIFICATIONS Read more on Job: Full professor in Technologies for Games at Utrecht University, the Netherlands…

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After exploring a virtual world, some can’t shake sense the actual world isn’t real either

[This story from The Atlantic explores a fascinating after-effect of VR and presence (or possibly of an incomplete presence illusion) akin to Timmins and Lombard’s concept of inverse presence; following Frederick Aardema’s 2006 finding that “VR increases dissociative experiences and lessens people’s sense of presence in actual reality,” it’s described as “post VR sadness” and “derealization.” Have you ever had anything like the experiences described here? Let us know in the online comments or let me know directly (at –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Eugene Hoshiko / AP]

Virtual Reality Can Leave You With an Existential Hangover

After exploring a virtual world, some people can’t shake the sense that the actual world isn’t real, either.

Rebecca Searles
Dec 21, 2016

When Tobias van Schneider slips on a virtual reality headset to play Google’s Tilt Brush, he becomes a god. His fingertips become a fiery paintbrush in the sky. A flick of the wrist rotates the clouds. He can jump effortlessly from one world that he created to another.

When the headset comes off, though, it’s back to a dreary reality. And lately van Schneider has been noticing some unsettling lingering effects. “What stays is a strange feeling of sadness and disappointment when participating in the real world, usually on the same day,” he wrote on the blogging platform Medium last month. “The sky seems less colorful and it just feels like I’m missing the ‘magic’ (for the lack of a better word). … I feel deeply disturbed and often end up just sitting there, staring at a wall.”

Van Schneider dubs the feeling “post-VR sadness.” It’s less a feeling of depression, he writes, and more a sense of detachment. And while he didn’t realize it when he published the post, he’s not the only one who has experienced this. Between virtual reality subreddits and Oculus Rift online forums, there are dozens of stories like his. The ailments range from feeling temporarily fuzzy, light-headed, and in a dream-like state, to more severe detachment that lasts days—or weeks. Many cases have bubbled up in the last year, likely as a response to consumer VR headsets becoming more widely available. But some of the stories date as far back as 2013, when an initial version of the Oculus Rift was released for software developers.

“[W]hile standing and in the middle of a sentence, I had an incredibly strange, weird moment of comparing real life to the VR,” wrote the video-game developer Lee Vermeulen after he tried Valve’s SteamVR system back in 2014. He was mid-conversation with a coworker when he started to feel off, and the experience sounds almost metaphysical. “I understood that the demo was over, but it was [as] if a lower level part of my mind couldn’t exactly be sure. It gave me a very weird existential dread of my entire situation, and the only way I could get rid of that feeling was to walk around or touch things around me.”

It seems that VR is making people ill in a way no one predicted. And as hard as it is to articulate the effects, it may prove even harder to identify its cause. Read more on After exploring a virtual world, some can’t shake sense the actual world isn’t real either…

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