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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Call for Papers: Real Virtual Relationships – Special issue of Journal of Virtual Worlds Research

Call for Papers

Real Virtual Relationships
A special issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research to be published 2017 Q2

Guest Editors:
Richard E. Ferdig (Kent State University, USA)
Kristine E. Pytash (Kent State University, USA)
Elyse Graham (SUNY Stony Brook, USA)
Glenn W. Muschert (Miami University, USA)

Deadline for abstracts: March 15, 2017


We live in an era of digitally-mediated relationships. From finding a spouse online to daily interactions facilitated through social media, it is difficult for many people to imagine building and sustaining both platonic and romantic relationships without technology. Virtual worlds are no strangers to these interactions. Virtual world inhabitants will often initially use the space to develop alternative self-portraits (e.g. Black, Ferdig, DiPietro, Liu, & Whalen, 2009). They then create and maintain relationships with those avatars and other human players out-of-world, with other human players in-world, and with non-player-characters in-world (Ferdig & Pytash, 2012). This can lead to even more complex relationships as they balance their lives and relationships in-world and out-of-world.

This special issue of Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is dedicated to an exploration of such topics in a collection of articles exploring “real virtual relationships” to be published in Q2 (2017). The issue editors welcome empirical and theoretical research from all fields interested in this innovative area including, but not limited to: education, psychology, sociology, digital media studies, computer science, public health, game studies, literature, counseling, religion, family studies, and business.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

  • Relationship building and maintenance in virtual worlds
  • Methods for studying digital relationships in virtual worlds
  • Economic impact of virtual relationships
  • Psychological impact of real-life events in virtual worlds (e.g. birth, marriage, death)
  • Education and training through relationships in virtual worlds
  • Virtual mentoring and collaboration
  • Technological aspects that impact relationship creation, sustenance, and termination
  • Love, hate, and other emotional responses to human and NPCs in virtual worlds
  • Political ramifications of heterogeneity or homogeneity in virtual worlds
  • Empirical case studies of player/user relationships
  • The impact of innovative technologies (e.g. AR/VR) on relationships in virtual worlds
  • Health and trust within medical virtual spaces
  • Analysis of literature featuring characters and their relationships in virtual spaces

Read more on Call for Papers: Real Virtual Relationships – Special issue of Journal of Virtual Worlds Research…

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Google tech reveals faces behind VR/MR headsets

[It’s still early days for this innovation from Google but allowing both observers and participants to see the faces of VR and MR users could significantly boost the potential for presence experiences. That potential is only briefly mentioned in the last paragraph in this post from the Google Research Blog, which includes more images and a 1:46 minute video. –Matthew]


Headset “Removal” for Virtual and Mixed Reality

February 21, 2017
Posted by Vivek Kwatra, Research Scientist and Christian Frueh, Avneesh Sud, Software Engineers

Virtual Reality (VR) enables remarkably immersive experiences, offering new ways to view the world and the ability to explore novel environments, both real and imaginary. However, compared to physical reality, sharing these experiences with others can be difficult, as VR headsets make it challenging to create a complete picture of the people participating in the experience.

Some of this disconnect is alleviated by Mixed Reality (MR), a related medium that shares the virtual context of a VR user in a two dimensional video format allowing other viewers to get a feel for the user’s virtual experience. Even though MR facilitates sharing, the headset continues to block facial expressions and eye gaze, presenting a significant hurdle to a fully engaging experience and complete view of the person in VR.

Google Machine Perception researchers, in collaboration with Daydream Labs and YouTube Spaces, have been working on solutions to address this problem wherein we reveal the user’s face by virtually “removing” the headset and create a realistic see-through effect.

Our approach uses a combination of 3D vision, machine learning and graphics techniques, and is best explained in the context of enhancing Mixed Reality video (also discussed in the Google-VR blog). It consists of three main components: Read more on Google tech reveals faces behind VR/MR headsets…

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Call: Usage of Simulations, Educational Games and Gamification in Education – 2017 Americas Conference on Info Systems

Call for Papers

Minitrack: Usage of Simulations, Educational Games and Gamification in Education
Track: IS in Education, IS Curriculum, Education and Teaching Cases (SIGED)
2017 Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS)
Boston, MA, August 10-12, 2017,

Deadline for paper submission: March 1, 2017

The Usage of Simulations, Educational Games and Gamification in Education minitrack solicits studies that examine the usage of serious games, simulations, or gamification in education. Although the focus is on studies on information systems education, studies from other fields are also welcome especially if the results can be used across different educational settings. This track invites both research papers and teaching cases related to the theme. This mini-track accepts a wide range of research methods and methodologies. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Research, case studies, empirical studies of serious games, simulations and ramification in classroom settings
  • Gamification in online courses and MOOCS
  • Designing serious games
  • Game mechanics for serious games
  • Adoption and diffusion of serious games and simulations in the classroom
  • Teacher attitude towards the usage of games in classroom settings
  • Effectiveness and efficiency of serious games and simulation
  • Student interaction with serious games and simulations
  • Assessment in serious games
  • Usage of the games and simulations as proxy for assessment
  • Game analytics
  • Ethical considerations
  • Implementation issues
  • Interactive digital storytelling based games
  • Game integration in the educational curriculum
  • Quality assurance

Read more on Call: Usage of Simulations, Educational Games and Gamification in Education – 2017 Americas Conference on Info Systems…

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Telepresence gives students new view of teaching

[Telepresence is being used at Grand Canyon University to let teachers-in-training learn by ‘being’ in a remote elementary school classroom; this story is from Grand Canyon University Today, where it includes several more images. –Matthew]

Telepresence gives students new view of teaching

February 08, 2017
Story and photos by Jeannette.Cruz, GCU News Bureau

Three Grand Canyon University educators in the College of Education are exploring a new way to virtually provide students with an opportunity to get their feet wet in the profession.

The initiative – a live, telepresence practicum pilot – engages students in an elementary school setting through video conferencing technologies. A camera inside a kindergarten classroom at Paradise Valley Unified School District, paired with a computer, allows faculty and students to see and hear without being seen. A unique feature is the mobility of the camera, making it possible for students to zoom in closer to a table or to pick up dialogue.

“This way we can also control the quality of what they’re seeing, too,” professor Kay Hansen said. “I’ve been in education for a long time, and it really is cutting-edge stuff for us to help our students become better future teachers. We want to enhance that reputation, and this application does everything that we need it to do.”

Through the one-hour tele-observation sessions, students also are able to obtain practicum hours with on-the-spot discussions linked to course assignments and objectives as well as talk with certified teachers following the tele-observation. Students enter the classroom and sit before two large screens. A faculty supervisor, who is also in the room along with other faculty during the session, begins the tele-observation and the screens come to life. Read more on Telepresence gives students new view of teaching…

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Call: Joint Conference on Serious Games 2017 (JCSG 2017)

Call for Papers

Joint Conference on Serious Games 2017 (JCSG 2017)
23-24th November 2017, Valencia, Spain

Paper submission deadline: April 1st, 2017


Over the last 10 years, the use of serious games in several fields like learning, simulation, training, health, well-being, management, assessment or marketing exploded. We gained a deeper knowledge on their efficiency and effectiveness, in particular taking into consideration the needs of the digital natives’ generation, and the single or combined use of scientific and artistic fields has grown in acceptance. However, there are still several barriers in the large-scale adoption of serious games. How can these fields be combined to achieve the best possible results? How to increase the perceived quality of serious games in front of the latest emerging entertainment games? How to ensure the capacity of serious games as valuable learning and training tools?

During JCSG 2017, experts will answer these questions by presenting and discussing recent developments, focusing on merging different technologies and arts to provide cutting-edge solutions to further improve the application of serious games in multiple fields.

The upcoming JCSG 2017 will focus on the challenges and benefits of combining different new emerging technologies and methods with a special interest in mixed reality interfaces and neuroscience based tools. It offers participants a valuable platform to discuss and learn about latest developments, technologies and possibilities in the development and use of serious games. Participants can expand their knowledge in the field of serious games and experience how a fusion of several new technologies can enhance learning, assessment and clinical outcomes.

JCSG 2017 invites submissions on the following topics:


  • Game design models and principles
  • Game platforms
  • Security
  • User modelling and adaptive games
  • Game effectiveness and efficiency
  • Stealth assessment
  • Metrics
  • Cross-sensing
  • Neural mechanisms of user experience


  • VR/AR
  • Mixed reality
  • Gestural interfaces
  • Psychophysiological based interfaces and metrics
  • Neuroscience based tools
  • Neurogaming
  • AI techniques
  • Adaptive user interfaces
  • Robotic inspired interfaces


  • Marketing
  • Health
  • Well-Being
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Innovation
  • Cultural heritage
  • Simulation
  • Training

Read more on Call: Joint Conference on Serious Games 2017 (JCSG 2017)…

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Sotheby’s reimagines Surrealism through Virtual Reality

[In an apparent first, an auction house is using VR to provide an immersive experience with virtual versions of art works before a sale. This interview from Sotheby’s, where it includes a 3:16 minute demonstration video and more images, never mentions presence explicitly but the phenomenon is obviously central to the discussion (note that the “watch video here” links may require sign in). –Matthew]

[Image: A visitor to the exhibition tries out the virtual reality headset (photo: Ian Gavan)]

Reimagining Surrealism Through Virtual Reality

By Sotheby’s | 22 Feb 2017

Visitors to the Surrealist Art Evening sale exhibition at New Bond Street, which is on view until 1 March, will be able to ‘step inside’ some of the auction highlights thanks to an innovative Virtual Reality experience. Sotheby’s teamed up with FGreat Studio to create the immersive film which features works by the likes of Dalí and Magritte. Visitors can immerse themselves in the full experience using our Occulus Rift VR headsets at the gallery and the film can also be watched in full VR via YouTube 360° using a personal headset or Google Cardboard – Watch video here. We caught up with Conrado Galves, Executive Creative Director of FGreat Studio, to find out how the video was made and to hear how this is a first for an auction house. Read more on Sotheby’s reimagines Surrealism through Virtual Reality…

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Call: Human Aspects in Adaptive and Personalized Interactive Environments (UMAP 2017 Workshop)


The 2nd International Workshop on Human Aspects in Adaptive and Personalized Interactive Environments, in conjunction with the 25th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization (ACM UMAP 2017), Bratislava, Slovakia, 9-12 July 2017

Full details are available online:


Submission deadline: 20 April 2017
Notification: 20 May 2017
Camera-ready: 28 May 2017


State-of-the-art approaches in adaptation and personalization research consider user models that mostly maintain information regarding the “traditional” user characteristics (i.e., experience, knowledge, interests, context), and related contextual or technology aspects (i.e., displays, connectivity, processing power). While modeling these factors has shown significant improvements and benefits to the end-users in terms of usability and user experience, still the needs of today’s epoch signify the further engagement into research that will produce more holistic human-centered practices. The vision is to bring more inclusively the “human-in-the-loop”, considering intrinsic user characteristics and abilities, like perceptual, personality, visual, cognitive and emotional factors as expressed by the theories of individual differences. In addition, recent studies show the need of broadening the scope of diversity parameters to include characteristics such as motivation, self-actualization, and socio-cultural differences.

The overarching goal of HAAPIE 2017 is to bring together researchers and practitioners working in the areas of human aspects in adaptation and personalization, and aims to:

  • Explore state-of-the-art and new implicit and explicit methods and techniques of modeling a broad range of human factors of users and behaviors – both separately and in possible combinations (e.g., cognitive abilities and age; motivation and cultural differences);
  • Explore personalization techniques, computational intelligence algorithms, recommendation models, and real-time paradigms that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of user tasks and interventions;
  • Compare challenges and experience in different real world contexts and applications (e.g., decision support, learning, wellbeing, security), where a holistic view on human aspects is needed to provide a positive user experience; and
  • Identify theoretical and computational models for the design, development and evaluation of human aspects in adaptation and personalization.

The added value will be to shape new human-centered adaptive interactive environments and personalized platforms that can contribute towards long-term viable solutions.


Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Human-centered Modeling, Adaptation Methods and Techniques
  • Influence of Human Factors on Interactive Systems for Personalization
  • Usage of Human Factors for Personalization
  • Implicit and Explicit Detection of Human Factors for Personalization
  • Human-centered Algorithms for Content Recommendation and Delivery
  • Novel Human-centered Interaction Concepts and User Interfaces
  • Individual Differences (Personality, Cognition, etc.)
  • Synergy of Affective and Human Cognitive Factors
  • Modeling Groups and Communities of Diverse Users
  • Evaluation of Human Aspects in Adaptation and Personalization
  • Personalized Access to Services Content
  • User Experience
  • Cultural and Language Diversity and Adaptation
  • Age-specific Personalization and Adaptation
  • Adaptation and Personalization for Users with Special Needs
  • User Behavior and Behavior Change
  • Context Awareness
  • Human Aspects in Personalized Internet of Things Applications
  • User-centric Cyber-Physical-Social Adaptive Systems
  • Human Aspects in Social Adaptive Robots
  • Adaptation and Personalization in Usable Privacy and Security
  • Privacy Aspects of Modeling Human Factors in Personalization Systems

Read more on Call: Human Aspects in Adaptive and Personalized Interactive Environments (UMAP 2017 Workshop)…

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Explore NASA’s TRAPPIST-1d exoplanet discovery in glorious 360-degree VR

[NASA’s release yesterday of a 360 degree VR panorama so that we can all experience what it would be like to be on a newly discovered planet demonstrates the recognition of the value of presence. The story below is from Wired UK, where it includes the 1:23 minute interactive video and two different images. More media recreations related to the discovery are available from NASA. –Matthew]

Explore Nasa’s TRAPPIST-1d exoplanet discovery in glorious 360-degree VR

The 360-degree Nasa VR panorama animates the surface of a newly detected planet, TRAPPIST-1d

By Victoria Woollaston
Thursday 23 February 2017

Last night, Nasa revealed it had spotted seven Earth-like exoplanets orbiting around the nearby TRAPPIST-1 star, 40 light years away.

The planets in the extrasolar system are all comparable to our planet in their size, mass, and densities, and at least three are in the so-called habitable zone meaning there could be water on their respective surfaces. And where there is water, there is the potential for alien life.

Individually called TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h, the seven planets are named in order of their distance from the star, which has an eight per cent mass of our Sun, is just 12 per cent of its size and is 39 light years away from Earth. Google has even designed a Doodle to mark the occassion.

As part of the exoplanet discovery, the space agency released a series of gorgeous artist’s illustrations of the individual planets, as well as the system, a retro travel poster advertising TRAPPIST-1e and a 360-degree panorama which lets you virtually journey to the surface of TRAPPIST-1d – the third planet from the TRAPPIST-1 star.

The animation, which can be viewed on YouTube but is best experienced through a VR headset, is based on the latest scientific data about this planetary system. Standing on the surface, TRAPPIST-1d’s sister planets can be seen as bright points of light in the distance. Read more on Explore NASA’s TRAPPIST-1d exoplanet discovery in glorious 360-degree VR…

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Call: Playable Cities: The City As A Digital Playground (at INTETAIN 2017)

Call for Workshop Papers

2nd International Workshop
Playable Cities: The City As A Digital Playground

This workshop will be held as part of the INTETAIN 2017 conference, June 20–22, 2017, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal:

Paper Submission deadline: 1 April 2017


What is a playable city? “A Playable City is a city where people, hospitality and openness are key, enabling its residents and visitors to reconfigure and rewrite its services, places and stories.” This notion of ‘making cities playable’ was introduced some years ago in Bristol (UK). Originally it was meant to distinguish smart cities from playable cities, where smartness is identified with intelligent and efficient city management. This is contrasted with playfulness that can become part of an urban environment through the use of new and advanced information and communication technology. A playable city requires the smart technology that is integrated in a smart city environment. Sensors, actuators, displays, smart tangible objects, and wearables, can be used to improve the efficiency of city management (traffic, public transport, security, public events, et cetera), but they can also introduce playful elements. Playability requires smart technology. A city without smart technology embedded in its urban environment cannot offer its citizens playful interactions with streets, buildings, street furniture, traffic, public art and entertainment, large public displays and public events.


This workshop is meant to explore the use of sensors and actuators for entertaining interactions and activities in urban environments. We want to focus on adding playfulness to daily life activities in urban environments. We invite short contributions (4 pages maximum, reference list not included) that address:

  • Embedding playfulness in outdoor daily life activities
  • Digital art and entertainment in urban environments
  • Playful interactions with large digital displays
  • Playfulness and smart city infrastructure
  • Community building, makers’ culture, and playfulness
  • Robust sensor and actuator technology for urban environments

Read more on Call: Playable Cities: The City As A Digital Playground (at INTETAIN 2017)…

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Soar or swim by using VR underwater

[Here’s a first-person report on an interesting approach to increasing presence with VR; the story is from MIT Technology Review, where it includes an additional image. –Matthew]

Using Virtual Reality Underwater Is Weird (but Fun)

Sure, you can soar or swim in VR. Just put on a headset and jump in a pool.

by Rachel Metz
February 20, 2017

No matter how well virtual reality mimics the sights and sounds of flying, floating, or swimming, it’s impossible to feel that you’re really doing those things when your feet are planted firmly on solid ground. So Stephen Greenwood and Allan Evans are making a VR headset that you can wear underwater.

Greenwood, director of creative development at Discovery Digital Networks, and Evans, cofounder of headset maker Avegant, started working on it in December after talking about what it would be like to combine an isolation tank—where you float in a dark, silent room, alone—with virtual reality.

So far it’s just a side project (and a silly-sounding one at that), but Greenwood and Evans can envision it being developed for entertainment, scuba-diving simulations, or physical therapy. Virtual reality is still in its infancy as a consumer product, and beyond a smattering of games, films, and applications it’s still not clear how we’ll use it; they see this as one option for making VR feel much more captivating than it typically does.

“I think there’s a little more of a suspension of disbelief when you’re in a radically different environment,” Greenwood said. “When you don’t have a sense of the ground or gravity or what’s up or what’s down, it makes it that much more believable.” Read more on Soar or swim by using VR underwater…

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