ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: April 2017

Call: Humans, the Enhanced, and Machines in Law – Science in Public 2017 sessions


Call for Papers

Humans, the Enhanced, and Machines in Law
Part of Science in Public 2017
University of Sheffield
July 10-12

Extended deadline: April 25

Science and technology are essential ingredients of our humanity. The emergence of fruitful and diverse scholarly perspectives on the history, practice, communication, governance and impacts of scientific knowledge reflects this fact. Yet rapid scientific and technological change has also unsettled the idea of what it means to be human; for example, through new frontiers in physical and cognitive enhancement, shift to knowledge economies, and potential threats to employment from mass automation. These changes take place in a context of broader challenges to expertise and evidence, dramatically illustrated by the EU referendum and the election of Donald Trump. Taking these matters seriously calls for a renewed focus on compassion, benevolence and civilization. This year at Science in Public, we ask:

Read more on Call: Humans, the Enhanced, and Machines in Law – Science in Public 2017 sessions…

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How Facebook is taking mind reading from sci-fi to reality

[There’s plenty of press coverage of events and announcements at this week’s F8 Facebook Developer Conference (see Wired on Facebook Spaces VR, The New York Times on AR, and The Guardian for 8 takeaways from the conference), but less attention has been given to the company’s work on brain-computer interfaces. This story is from The Verge, where it includes more images and a 0:15 minute video. –Matthew]

How Facebook is taking mind reading from sci-fi to reality

Regina Dugan: ‘This isn’t cocktail party talk.’

by Nick Statt
Apr 20, 2017

The rumblings started months ago. Through a series of peculiar job listings and key hires, it became clear Facebook was up to something unlike anything it had ever pursued. Building 8, as the company would name it, was to be a new division under famed technologist Regina Dugan, former director of the government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Dugan had transitioned to the tech industry in 2012, serving as the head of Google’s experimental ATAP group. Among other things, it was responsible for the promising but now defunct Ara modular smartphone project.

On Wednesday, Facebook took the wraps off Building 8 and had Dugan tell the world know what exactly her fast-growing team has been working on. At the day-2 keynote at the company’s F8 developer conference in San Jose, Dugan announced Facebook’s plans for two ambitious projects: one to develop a system for letting you type with just your thoughts, and another to let you “hear” using vibrations on your skin. This would be done through brain-computer interfaces — devices that can read neural activity and translate it into digital signals, and vice versa.

The objective: to help Facebook take the lead in the burgeoning field of augmented reality, which integrates our online and offline lives using a variety of still yet-to-be-built devices. “The goal of an [augmented reality] system is to have a much more blended physical and digital world,” Dugan told The Verge in an interview. “I break that if I have an input mechanism that is not also blended between my physical and digital world.” In Facebook’s view, the road to AR will be paved with the smartphone camera. But eventually, it leads to the brain — which is where Dugan and her team come in. Read more on How Facebook is taking mind reading from sci-fi to reality…

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Call: 26th IEEE International Symposium on Human and Robot Interactive Communication (RO-MAN 2017)

Call for Papers, Special Sessions, and Workshops/Tutorials

RO-MAN 2017
26th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication
Pestana Palace Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal
August 28 – September 1, 2017

The Call for Papers in PDF format can be downloaded here.

Important Dates/Deadlines:

  • Proposals for Special Sessions: Feb 6, 2017;
  • Proposals for Workshops & Tutorials: March 19, 2017;
  • Special Session Papers Submission: March 26, 2017;
  • Regular Paper Submission: March 26, 2017;
  • Video session contribution deadline: May 2, 2017;
  • Notification of Regular Paper Acceptance: May 26, 2017;
  • Final Paper Submission: June 6, 2017.

Conference theme: Human-Robot Collaboration and Human Assistance for an Improved Quality of Life

The 26th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, RO-MAN 2017, will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from August 28 to September 1, 2017. This symposium is a leading forum where state-of-the-art innovative results, the latest developments as well as future perspectives relating to robot and human interactive communication are presented and discussed.

The conference covers a wide range of topics related to Robot and Human Interactive Communication, involving theories, methodologies, technologies, empirical and experimental studies. Papers related to the study of the robotic technology, psychology, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, human factors, interaction-based robot design and other topics related to human-robot interaction are welcome. Read more on Call: 26th IEEE International Symposium on Human and Robot Interactive Communication (RO-MAN 2017)…

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Battle mutant spiders as you drop 41 stories in Drop of Doom VR ride

[You will never, ever find me on this intense presence-evoking ride. The story below is from, where it features a photo gallery and a 0:45 minute video; for more information see the Six Flags press release mentioned in the story as well as another one with information about other Six Flags VR rides. –Matthew]

Six Flags announces new ‘extreme’ option for world-record ride

By Rob Spahr | NJ Advance Media for
April 20, 2017

JACKSON – Thrill seekers will soon have the opportunity to test their nerves even more on the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride at Six Flags Great Adventure.

The theme park announced on Thursday morning that for a limited time, beginning on May 5, guests will have the opportunity to ride Zumanjaro wearing fully integrated virtual reality headsets.

While they are being buckled into the ride’s floorless seats, riders over the age of 13 will have the option to strap on Samsung Gear VR headsets to wear as they plunge 41 stories at speeds of up to 90 mph.

The new ride experience, called Drop of Doom VR, will transport guests into a 360-degree virtual world where they become pilots of a futuristic gunship under attack by mutant spiders. Read more on Battle mutant spiders as you drop 41 stories in Drop of Doom VR ride…

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Call: Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2017 Workshop – People, Personal Data and the Built Environment

Call for Participation

Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2017 Workshop – People, Personal Data and the Built Environment
Edinburgh, Scotland
Saturday 10th June

Submission deadline: 27th April

Holger Schnädelbach (University of Nottingham)
David Kirk (Northumbria University)
Nick Dalton (Northumbria University)
Nils Jäger (University of Nottingham)
Elizabeth Churchill (Google)
Sara Nabil (Newcastle University)

Read more on Call: Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2017 Workshop – People, Personal Data and the Built Environment…

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VR and presence shaping the future of insurance

[This story from Insurance & Risk presents some intriguing scenarios for the use of presence (though they also raise security, privacy and other concerns). For more, see the Bain & Company website for the new report “Digitalization in Insurance: The Multibillion Dollar Opportunity.” –Matthew]

[Image: Source: Newmark Insurance]

Virtual Reality Shaping the Future of General Insurance

Virtual Reality (VR) could shape the future of general insurance says third party claims expert Peter Tomkins.

19 April ’17

“Traditionally, the biggest challenge insurers face is understanding risk. Modern technology has come a long way to address this need – insurers are now using car monitors to understand driving behaviour, and Fitbits to understand a client’s health. VR is another powerful tool that an insurer can use to fill in their understanding of a risk profile,” says Tomkins, General Manager, Specialty Markets at Gallagher Bassett.

“Imagine a scenario where a risk assessor is making a judgement over insuring a building. They can base their decision on a few poorly shot pictures, or expend time and resources to view it in person. A better option may be viewing a 360° video of the site, allowing them to identify hazards that a limited view might miss.”

Tomkins also states that for brokers, the benefits of VR are clear. “As a Third Party Claims Administrator, Gallagher Bassett recognises that virtual reality has the potential to reduce costs, offer coverage anywhere, and provide more accurate results. There’s no doubt over whether this technology will be an intrinsic part of insurance; the only question is how soon.” Read more on VR and presence shaping the future of insurance…

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Call: Plug into Cultural Heritage (at INTETAIN 2017)

Call for Papers

Plug into Cultural Heritage Workshop

Part of the INTETAIN 2017 conference
June 20-22, 2017, Portugal

Paper deadline extended to May 1


What is cultural heritage? How can society become more actively involved in cultural heritage activities, not only as an observer but also as a contributor to the definition of heritage? Cultural heritage is considered an important precondition for genuine sustainability. However, existing applications for heritage dissemination do not really create heritage communities. Adequate ICT tools are necessary to support citizens in their everyday activities in shaping cultural heritage and to be shaped by it. Social platforms offer potential to build such networks, but can be further exploited for heritage promotion. Technology could help better in providing a seamless integration of cultural heritage in people’s everyday life.


This workshop aims to bridge this gap by exploring necessary tools and challenges to allow citizens to share and obtain local heritage knowledge.  We invite contributions relevant to cultural heritage (tangible, intangible and natural) such as literature studies, user studies, design concepts, and position papers. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Technology design and evaluations incl. augmented and virtual reality, collaborative games, locative multimedia, and mobile HCI in general
  • Opportunities and challenges for community involvement incl. special interest groups such as the elderly and migrant communities
  • The role of current social media in cultural heritage awareness

Read more on Call: Plug into Cultural Heritage (at INTETAIN 2017)…

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‘Teleconcussion’ robot could help solve sports-concussion dilemma in rural America

[This report from the UT Southwestern Medical Center Newsroom is about a study of yet another valuable application of telepresence. –Matthew]

[Image: A remote-controlled robot equipped with tools to diagnose concussion sits on the sideline of a Northern Arizona football game. Research shows doctors can use these robots to assess potential head injuries with the same accuracy as on-site physicians.]

‘Doctor’ robot could help solve sports-concussion dilemma in rural America

DALLAS – April 3, 2017 – From bustling cities to tiny farming communities, the bright lights of the local stadium are common beacons to the Friday night ritual of high school football.

But across the sprawling stretches of rural America, these stadiums are commonly far from doctors who could quickly diagnose and treat head injuries that have brought so much scrutiny to the sport.

A first-of-its-kind study from the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and Mayo Clinic shows the technology exists to ease this dilemma: By using a remote-controlled robot, a neurologist sitting hundreds of miles from the field can evaluate athletes for concussion with the same accuracy as on-site physicians.

The study provides preliminary data to support a nascent movement to utilize teleconcussion equipment at all school sporting events where neurologists or other concussion experts aren’t immediately accessible. Read more on ‘Teleconcussion’ robot could help solve sports-concussion dilemma in rural America…

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Call: 5th Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC)

Call for Papers for the 5th Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC)
Berlin, Germany (Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
25-27 August 2017

Extended deadline for abstract submission: Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Visual Science of Art Conference (VSAC) focuses on connecting the communities of visual scientists and artists in order to deepen our understanding of aesthetic phenomena. The VSAC is an ideal venue to debate and collaborate on all topics associated with the perception and evaluation of artworks. Organized as a satellite conference to the ECVP (European Conference on Visual Perception,, the VSAC invites all people that connect visual perception with the arts (e.g., empirical, experimental, philosophical, phenomenological, computational approaches). This year we would also like to invite philosophical proposals (also X-phi) that focus on empirical approaches to the visual arts.

Presentation types:

  • Oral Presentations: 15-20 minutes plus Q&A (20 min slots)
  • Posters (2 extended poster sessions, A0 portrait format)

Authors will be informed about the abstract selection in May 2017.


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AMD: VR requires creators to ‘rethink the Z’ on way to ‘full presence’

[Aside from the main point about rethinking the Z-axis in designing presence experiences in VR, this report from DeveloperTech contains the noteworthy point made by an AMD VP that the ultimate goal is making the virtual indistinguishable from real life; a contrasting view is presented in an excerpt from a Medium contributor that follows below. –Matthew]

[Image: Source:]

AMD: VR requires creators to ‘rethink the Z’

By Ryan Daws
13 April 2017

VR is coming of age, but it will suffer unless creators ‘rethink the Z’ and don’t let content of the past define content of the future.

That was the message of AMD Corporate Vice President Roy Taylor in the opening keynote of VR World Congress. “Our understanding of virtual reality is seen through the prism of our current understanding, and our understanding is going to develop,” observes Taylor. Pioneering studies into how time distorts while in VR, and how pain can be decreased using virtual reality, could have a major impact on how content is developed for a wide range of use cases. “We are at the beginning, and we’re going to see some wonderful changes start to happen.”

BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) produced a sizzle reel highlighting the best of VR across various categories; each displaying how far the industry has advanced and the incredible content we’re beginning to see with deeper levels of immersion and engagement than ever before.

“As great as that content is, one of the challenges we have is we need to ‘rethink the Z’,” says Taylor. “We’ve been looking for 120 years through a window and we’re starting to experiment [;] for the first time we’ve stepped through that window into the other side – but we’re looking at it through the prism of our current knowledge and experience.”

It’s observed that early movies appeared like plays because we understood theatre, and the first VR now appears like movies because we understand film. Likening it to the ‘X, Y, Z’ axis on a graph, we’re able to go forward in ‘Z depth’ Taylor says, “in ways we’re yet to fully understand.” Read more on AMD: VR requires creators to ‘rethink the Z’ on way to ‘full presence’…

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