ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: July 2017

Call: Advances in Immersive Media for the Benefit of People: International Conference on the Human Aspects of Immersive Media

Call for Papers

New Horizons in VR: Advances in Immersive Media for the Benefit of People
International conference on the human aspects of immersive media
Berlin, Germany, 14/15 December 2017
Venue: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Mitte

Jointly organized by:

  • ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association) Section “Digital Games Research”
  • NCRC (NeuroCure Clinical Research Center) and CSB (Center for Stroke Research Berlin)

Immersive media (IM) such as virtual and augmented/mixed reality (V/A/MR) present new ways of experiencing and interacting with virtual, real and hybrid environments. With consumer VR having arrived and several major technology companies preparing AR/MR products and services, there is growing interest in the human aspects linked with these technologies.

While hopes are high for IM being a game changer, important questions regarding its opportunities still remain unanswered: Can we learn faster or deeper using IM? Can AR make the world one large interface and can MR facilitate automated training scenarios in the real-world? Can IM present new ways of communicating and meeting with remote friends? Can it contribute to a better life, can it improve the condition of patients within diagnostics, treatments and rehabilitation? Which are the social and potential societal implications of this new type of telepresence? Is VR gameplay truly more engaging?

But there are also challenges and risks connected to IM: How can we make the hardware less cumbersome and reduce visual discomfort and motion sickness? How can we improve quality of user experience, even with hardware and network limitations? Which are the effects of repeated and long-term use? Are there other health dangers involved related to epilepsy or obesity or potential behavioral hazards such as problematic use or aggression? Are there social hazards such as new forms of sexual and other harassment? And more broadly: will IM improve or deteriorate our quality of life: will it be utopia or black mirror?

The aim of this conference is to zoom in on the potential uses and implications of the arrival of A/M/VR in the everyday life. Researchers from a variety of disciplines interested in the human aspects of immersive media technologies are welcome, including (but not limited to) the fields of communication research, media studies, game studies, sociology, psychology, education studies, human factors engineering, economics, and health / medicine.

TOPICS Read more on Call: Advances in Immersive Media for the Benefit of People: International Conference on the Human Aspects of Immersive Media…

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Undersea world beyond Chunnel train revealed on ‘Eurostar Odyssey’ VR experience

[Here’s a clever use of VR and presence to replace the boring blackenss of the windows during train trips under the English Channel. The press release is from Eurostar and “brand experience agency” AKQA, and more information including two videos can be found on the Eurostar website. –Matthew]

Eurostar unveils world’s first onboard virtual reality experience: ‘Eurostar Odyssey’

Taking travellers on an adventure to the depths of the sea bed, with immersive smartphone headsets available throughout the summer

12 July 2017

Eurostar today announces ‘Eurostar Odyssey’, the first virtual reality experience designed to enhance a journey through an immersive onboard adventure, with specially designed headsets distributed throughout the summer at peak travel periods for families.

As travellers make their way at high-speed under the channel, they’ll enter the hidden depths of the sea bed for the first time, looking into a virtual world of sea creatures, sunken treasures and mysterious sea-scapes. Read more on Undersea world beyond Chunnel train revealed on ‘Eurostar Odyssey’ VR experience…

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Call: AAMAS 2018, the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems

AAMAS 2018, the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
July 10-15, 2018 in Stockholm
http://aamas18.ifaamas.org

Important Dates:
Abstract Submission: 10th of November 2017 (23:59 UTC-12)
Full Paper Submission: 14th of November 2017 (23:59 UTC-12)
Rebuttal Phase: 9th-10th of January 2018 (23:59 UTC-12)
Author Notification: 24th of January 2018 (23:59 UTC-12)

AAMAS, the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, is the leading scientific conference for research on autonomous agents and multiagent systems. It will be co-located with the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI)/European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI) and the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML).

AAMAS 2018, the seventeenth edition in the AAMAS series, seeks the submission of high-quality papers limited to 8 pages in length, with any additional pages containing only bibliographic references. Reviews will be double blind; authors must avoid including anything that can be used to identify them. Submitting an abstract is required before submitting a full paper. All work must be original, that is, must not have appeared in conference proceedings, books, or journals and may not be under review for other archival conferences, books, or journals. In addition to submissions in the main track, AAMAS 2018 will solicit papers for the following special tracks:

  • Socially Interactive Agents
  • Robotics
  • Blue Sky Ideas
  • Industrial Applications
  • JAAMAS Submissions.

The review process for the special tracks will be similar to the main track, but with program committee members specially selected for each track. All accepted papers for the special tracks will be included in the proceedings. At least one of the authors of each paper is required to register, attend, and present the paper at the conference. Read more on Call: AAMAS 2018, the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems…

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VR’s new mission: Reunite immigrants with family back home

[An extremely positive use, and the limitations, of presence are described in this story from CNET, where the original includes a 3:52 minute video and a photo gallery. –Matthew]

 

[Image: A grandmother in Iztapalapa, Mexico, used a Samsung Gear VR to spend the afternoon with relatives in the US she hasn’t seen in almost two decades. Credit: Family Reunions Project]

VR’s new mission: Reunite immigrants with family back home

The Family Reunions Project uses 360-degree videos and VR headsets to reunite families separated by borders they cannot cross –except in virtual reality.

by Laura Martínez
July 27, 2017

Marleny, a Guatemalan immigrant in New York, hasn’t returned to her home country in over 15 years. But a few months ago she was able to tour her grandfather’s land in Valle del Rinconcito, Guatemala. She could see the palm trees swinging about and her mom inviting her to explore the estate, talking to her in a soft, familiar voice, welcoming her to see parts of the land that Marleny hadn’t seen before. “That really made me cry,” Marleny says in this YouTube video documenting the experience.

Her trip, however, did not take place in Guatemala, but in the patio of a home in Queens, New York, using a Galaxy S6 phone mounted on a Samsung Gear VR headset. It let her see — in 360 degrees — a prerecorded video of her homeland, and relatives she hadn’t seen in a long time. That experience was also the first of several “virtual postcards” created by the Family Reunions Project, a project launched by two young immigrants who use virtual reality to “transport” immigrants to their home country, a place they cannot return because of economic — or migratory — issues. Read more on VR’s new mission: Reunite immigrants with family back home…

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Call: Chapters for “The Mind-Technology Problem – Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artifacts”

Call for Papers

The Mind-Technology Problem – Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artifacts

Deadline: 31st of January, 2018

We invite chapter contributions for the volume “The Mind-Technology Problem – Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artifacts” forthcoming in the book series Studies in Brain and Mind (Springer). This book explores the relation between philosophy of mind and emerging technologies. Technologies that only recently seemed to be science fiction are becoming part of everyday life. Our life is increasingly saturated with ‘smart’ artifacts. The ubiquitous and mobile Internet amounts to a radically new epistemic and cognitive environment which we already inhabit. This smart environment is saturated with artificial intelligence systems that not only guide us to information on the Internet, but are transforming the way we inhabit the non-virtual realm: the home, the urban environment and beyond.

In the process, these technologies may be viewed as a form of rapidly evolving cognitive enhancement (Schneider, 2016, Heersmink, 2015). They may also be radically changing the human cognitive profile (Schneider and Mandik, 2016, Clowes, 2015; Clark, 2007) including the possibility of mind uploading (Corabi and Schneider, 2012). Some see these trends as deeply worrying, undermining a raft of our cognitive and social capacities (Carr, 2010; Turkle, 2011). Others see the relationship as a more of a continuum with the long history of artifactually led, cognitive evolution of human beings (Malafouris, 2013; Clark, 2003).

These technologies appear to have important implications for the human mind, sense of identity and even perhaps what we think human beings are. Other technological tendencies may stretch our ideas further toward super-intelligence, (within the skin) cognitive enhancements, and more distantly perhaps, machine consciousness. Yet while ideas of artificial general intelligence, cognitive enhancements and a smart environment are widely commented on, a serious analysis of their philosophical implications is only now getting started.

In this edited volume, we seek the best philosophical analysis of what current and near future 21st technology means for the metaphysics of mind. Some of the questions still open include: Should the adoption or incorporation of current technologies, such as smart phones or wearable gadgets be viewed as enhancements or diminishments of the human mind? Or is such a framework too restricted? Might they transform the sorts of self-knowledge available to us, or what self-knowledge is? Might the use of such gadgetry force us to rethink the boundary between human beings and technology, or indeed enduring philosophical questions such as personal identity or what the self is? According to various theories of personal identity, are radical cognitive enhancements even compatible with personal survival?

In thinking about minds, there is a common tendency to define the ontological status of the mind in terms of whatever is the latest technology. The computational model of mind has certainly been one of the most influential and is currently undergoing important challenges and challenging reinventions (Schneider and Mandik, 2016). Is the notion that the mind or self as a program, which often guides public and philosophical discussions, metaphysically well founded? Whether or not our minds are actually computational, our ability to interface with machines, from virtual reality technologies such as Oculus Rift to our smart-phones and wearable gadgetry, are undergoing a profound shift and are rapidly reshaping the metaphors and concepts philosophers use to think about minds and the conclusion they draw (Metzinger, 2009; Chalmers, 2007).

As a follow up of our “Minds, Selves and 21st Century Technology” meeting in Lisbon (http://mindandcognition.weebly.com/mind-selves-and-technology.html), we seek high quality submissions that investigate the philosophical implications of the engagement between 21st century technology, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. We are especially interested in submissions that do not indulge in extensive futuristic speculation but focus on current or near-ready technologies which are already changing the shape of the human (and machine) cognitive landscape and our philosophical understanding of mind. Research question include the following: Read more on Call: Chapters for “The Mind-Technology Problem – Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artifacts”…

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Disney’s Magic Bench makes augmented reality a group activity

[The “Magic Bench” is another intriguing presence-evoking technology from Disney Research; this story is from New Atlas, where it includes the 3:39 minute video that is also available along with more information via the links at the bottom of the story. –Matthew]

Disney’s Magic Bench makes augmented reality a group activity

Michael Irving
July 26, 2017

Some day, even stopping for a rest on a bench at Disneyland might be an attraction in itself. You could find yourself seated beside a grumpy frog or a snoring elephant, thanks to a mixed reality prototype Disney Research calls the Magic Bench. Designed to make AR experiences more of a group activity, the system allows people to interact with animated characters in 3D space, and even feel their “presence” through haptic feedback in the seat.

Virtual and augmented reality are immersive experiences, but usually only for one person in a headset. The aim of the Magic Bench project was to do away with any equipment that a participant needed to wear or hold: instead, activating the experience is as simple as walking up and taking a seat. The bench senses how many people there are and where they’re all sitting, and launches different scenarios accordingly.

Users can see themselves on a video screen in front of them, joined by whatever cartoon character happens to pop in. But rather than just superimposing animations over the top of the video, the scene is captured by both an RGB camera and a depth-sensing Microsoft Kinect at the same time, with an algorithm stitching the two feeds together in real time. The room is reconstructed in three dimensions on the video screen, allowing participants to move behind and in front of the characters.

“This platform creates a multi-sensory immersive experience in which a group can interact directly with an animated character,” says Moshe Mahler, principal digital artist at Disney Research. “Our mantra for this project was: hear a character coming, see them enter the space, and feel them sit next to you.” Read more on Disney’s Magic Bench makes augmented reality a group activity…

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Call: Designing with and for Users on the Autism Spectrum – International Journal of HCI special issue

International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction

Special Issue Call for Papers:
Designing with and for Users on the Autism Spectrum

http://explore.tandfonline.com/cfp/est/designing-with-and-for-users-on-the-autism-spectrum

Submissions due: 3 September 2017

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and to the world around them. It is estimated that around 1 in 68 people are autistic. Autism is also a spectrum condition, which means that it affects different people in different ways. Some autistic people have communication impairments and some also have a learning disability. However, a substantial proportion is of average or advanced intellectual ability and generally leading an independent life.

When designing technology for this population, autistic characteristics have to be considered. Autistic people typically welcome structure, both in their daily routines and their social interactions. It has been argued that interactive systems and other products should equally be designed in a clear and uncluttered way, reducing complexity. However, capabilities and individual preferences can vary widely across the autism spectrum, and what works for one group may not be universally applicable.

Further, established design practices may prove difficult to apply as users may be unable to express their preferences clearly. People with autism may also struggle with the roles typically assumed in user-centred design approaches that rely on active user involvement, participation in co-creation sessions and prototype testing.

To advance research in this area, we invite original research contributions which focus on the design of interactive systems, products, environments and experiences for users on the autism spectrum. We particularly invite contributions focussing on supporting the strengths of autistic people. Submissions must describe original research of the highest scientific quality and will be rigorously peer reviewed. The expected length is about 6,000-8,000 words. We welcome submission that are based on recent conference papers if the submission includes additional contributions.

Please note that we also welcome submission that touch on related neurodiverse conditions, cognitive disorders and developmental conditions such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Dyscalculia.

MAIN TOPICS

The call for this special issue reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, covering disability, design, co-creation, computer science, education and health. It includes all aspects and stages of technology design, with a particular focus on how end user have been involved in the design process. Contributions are invited, but not limited to:

  • human-centred design approaches, e.g. participatory design or design thinking
  • supporting important life transitions, e.g. between schools, or from education into employment
  • systems that build on autistic strengths and capabilities (rather than overcoming weaknesses)
  • involving parents, carers or teachers in the design process
  • technology support with everyday activities
  • mainstream apps or services effectively appropriated for autism support
  • eliciting user needs, preferences and creativity
  • product, interior and architecture design solutions that help prevent injury or getting lost
  • enabling effective self-advocacy
  • designing for sensory needs
  • facilitating social communication, e.g. between peers or within a family
  • significant empirical work that informs the design of new technology
  • training and educating the next generation of designers

Read more on Call: Designing with and for Users on the Autism Spectrum – International Journal of HCI special issue…

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Robots could soon care for dementia patients

[This widely-cited story from The Daily Mail highlights part of a new Lancet Commission report regarding the use of several technologies, including those designed to evoke different types of presence, for the treatment of dementia patients. For more information see The Lancet as well as a related story, “Assisted living tries virtual reality to help seniors with dementia,” in The Journal Times. –Matthew]

Read more on Robots could soon care for dementia patients…

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Job: Assistant Professor, Media Theory, Culture, and Technology at Media School of Indiana University

Assistant Professor, Media Theory, Culture, and Technology at Media School of Indiana University

Initial application deadline: October 20, 2017

The Media School at Indiana University Bloomington invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the Assistant Professor level with an anticipated start date of August 1, 2018. Candidates for this position should have an established record of publication and teaching at the intersection of media theory, culture, and technology. Areas of specialization may include but are not limited to screen studies, emergent media, sound studies, software studies, media history, and technology studies. Digital humanities approaches are welcome. The successful candidate can expect to be working in an innovative, newly-created Media School that brings together cinema and media studies, journalism, communication science, and media production, offering curricular tracks in these areas as well as game design, media management, and media technologies and cultures. The position’s duties include teaching, research, and service. The candidate should have a Ph. D. in Media Studies, Film Studies, or a closely related field or be ABD at the time of application. Read more on Job: Assistant Professor, Media Theory, Culture, and Technology at Media School of Indiana University…

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Kylie Jenner fools her family with Madam Tussauds wax replica

[Here’s a short, middle-of-summer presence story from People, where the original includes more images and a 1:05 minute video. See the Madame Tussauds Hollywood website for more. –Matthew]

Kylie Jenner Says She ‘Fooled Her Whole Family’ During FaceTime Call with Her $350,000 Wax Figure

Read more on Kylie Jenner fools her family with Madam Tussauds wax replica…

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