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Monthly Archives: August 2017

Job: Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Game Studies at UC Riverside

Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Game Studies
In the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside
Job #JPF00788

Open date: August 28, 2017
Initial review date: October 30, 2017

The Department of Media and Cultural Studies (MCS) at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in the area of Games Studies beginning July 1, 2018.


We seek candidates with research expertise in Game Studies. Possible areas of interest include: gender and sexuality, queer and feminist approaches, critical race studies of games, serious games, indie games, political economy of games/media archeology, haptics and interface, gamification, game culture and identity, virtual/digital epistemologies and ontologies, narratology, ludology and other approaches related to digital media and games. Experience creating/coding/designing games, or in creating game-related or -based art and performance is a preferred qualification.

Read more on Job: Tenure Track Assistant Professor in Game Studies at UC Riverside…

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Using VR and presence to counsel lottery winners on coping with windfall

[Here’s an interesting use of virtual reality and presence: To help new lottery winners practice responding to hints and requests from family, friends and co-workers for a share of the windfall. The effort may eventually benefit a broader segment of society too because the last two paragraphs in this story from CTV News note that the project is a precursor to using VR to combat bullying and workplace discrimination. For more information see the Canada NewsWire press release. –Matthew]

[Image: Lottery winner Gilles Leprohon celebrates after receiving his cheque, Thursday, January 12, 2017 in Montreal. Credit: The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson)]

Loto-Quebec to use virtual reality to counsel winners on coping with windfall

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lottery winners in Quebec are getting a new way to practice saying ‘No’ when asked for money.

Loto-Quebec began offering virtual reality technology Wednesday to winners who might have trouble knowing what to do or say when faced with exuberant family members excited by their windfall, siblings offering unsolicited investment tips, or friends hinting that they’d like to join them on a big trip.

Lotto spokesman Brian LeCompte says it involves wearing a headset that immerses the user in various scenarios they will likely face at a house party or in the workplace.

“One of the situations that they’re put in is they’re at a party at someone’s house with friends and family and the mother pops into the frame and says ‘Congratulations!’ and then goes on to talk about how she’s always dreamed about having a condo in Florida,” says LeCompte.

“They’re all just little situations where the person is speaking to you. It’s virtual reality so you feel like you’re in the shoes of the person who won. And it just prepares them for what might be coming once they walk out the door with their cheque.”

The eight-minute experience is meant to compliment existing counselling services, available to the roughly 1,500 people a year who win prizes of $25,000 or more. Read more on Using VR and presence to counsel lottery winners on coping with windfall…

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Call: Eleventh International Conference on e-Learning & Innovative Pedagogies

Eleventh International Conference on e-Learning & Innovative Pedagogies
St John’s University, Manhattan Campus, New York, USA
2–3 March 2018

Proposal deadline: 2 December 2017


The Eleventh International Conference on e-Learning & Innovative Pedagogies will be held at St John’s University, Manhattan Campus, New York, USA , 2–3 March 2018. We invite proposals for paper presentations, workshops/interactive sessions, posters/exhibits, virtual lightning talks, virtual posters, or colloquia addressing one of the following themes:

Theme 1: Pedagogies
Theme 2: Institutions
Theme 3: Technologies
Theme 4: Social Transformations
2018 Special Focus: Digital Pedagogies for Social Justice


First we called it ‘computers in education’. Then it was the World Wide Web. Then it was the reincarnation the Internet in the form Web 2.0 and social media. For a long time, we educators have lived with enthusiastic talk about the implications of technology in learning. Sometimes the talk has been plausible. At other times the results of using technology in learning have been disappointing.

For all the hyperbole, education is in many sites and many ways still relatively unchanged—the relations of teachers to students, students to each other and students to knowledge—and this is the case even when technology is used. For instance, if the print textbook becomes an e-book, do the social relations of knowledge and learning actually change? If the pen-and-paper test is mechanized, does this change our assessment systems?

Technology, in other words, can and often does reproduce and reinforce traditional, didactic relationships of learning. However, today’s information and communications technologies also offer affordances which in many ways we have barely yet explored. These possibilities we call a ‘new learning’, and ‘transformative pedagogy’.

How then, can we create and use technologies that push the boundaries of the learning experience, engage students more deeply and produce learning outcomes that live up to the high expectations of citizens, governments and workplaces in the twenty-first century? For this reason, in this research network, we want to focus not just on e-learning, but the pedagogical innovations that we hope e-learning environments might support. In this agenda, the ideas and practices of ‘ubiquitous learning’ suggest a wide range of possibilities.

[More details:] Read more on Call: Eleventh International Conference on e-Learning & Innovative Pedagogies…

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An excitement/nausea dial for virtual reality

[A method to adjust the potential for users experiencing nausea in a virtual environment discussed in this story from MIT Technology Review could be expanded to adjusting the intensity and other attributes or types of presence. For more details about the VRemedy Labs project, see a recent post in the company’s blog. –Matthew]

Now There’s a Nausea Dial for Virtual Reality

A startup is building a game that will let you adjust the excitement—and queasiness—of your VR experience.

by Rachel Metz
August 25, 2017

Some people have no problem flipping and flying in virtual reality; others find this kind of activity literally sickening.

The problem stems from a disconnect between your eyes and your inner ear: what you see doesn’t always match up to what you’re feeling when you wander around a virtual environment with a headset on. It doesn’t bother everyone, but it remains one of VR’s biggest challenges to becoming a mainstream technology.

Companies and researchers have been exploring a slew of potential solutions, from beefing up the resolution of the displays in headsets to limiting your field of view when there’s a lot of motion-related activity going on in the virtual world. And a very young startup called VRemedy Labs is working on an interesting fix of its own: a sort of software-based dial that you can turn up or down to raise or decrease the excitement level—and, it hopes, the resulting nausea—within VR games. Read more on An excitement/nausea dial for virtual reality…

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Call: Bringing Together Interactive Digital Storytelling with Tangible Interaction: Challenges and Opportunities (ICIDS 2017 Workshop)

Call for Workshop Participation

Bringing Together Interactive Digital Storytelling with Tangible Interaction: Challenges and Opportunities
To be held within the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS 2017;
14th November, Madeira, Portugal

Abstract submission deadline: September 20th

The workshop aims to explore challenges and potential opportunities in bringing interactive digital storytelling into the realm of tangible and embodied interaction. Experts from both fields are invited to present and discuss their ideas. Besides fostering discussion and potential collaborations, the goal is to come up with new and suitable computational storytelling models and define design guidelines/strategies. We are especially interested in exploring open questions, such as:

  • How can we bring digital interactive storytelling and storytelling with tangible objects together?
  • How can we effectively include autonomous and intelligent tangible characters (e.g. small robots or active tangibles) when designing storytelling settings?
  • How can we embed computational models (typically working in virtual environments) into tangible interfaces?
  • Which are the advantages and current limitations of existing systems?

Topics of special interest that would positively feed the development of the workshop are, for example:

  • Tangible interaction and interfaces for storytelling systems
  • Storytelling with intelligent embodied characters (e.g. robots, hybrid agents, etc.)
  • Tangible autonomous characters
  • Computational intelligence applied to storytelling with physical interfaces
  • Other forms of relevant and novel tangible expression for interactive storytelling

Plans for prospective publication as an outcome of the workshop contributions will be announced in the workshop. Find out more about the topics and how to participate at: Read more on Call: Bringing Together Interactive Digital Storytelling with Tangible Interaction: Challenges and Opportunities (ICIDS 2017 Workshop)…

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Can virtual reality and presence help to beat back pain?

[Presence can provide vivid and impactful experiences that change people’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior but that power must be used responsibly, as highlighted in the second part of this story from the Daily Mail; for more information see a 1:53 minute video from Getty Images and a 2:26 minute video on YouTube. –Matthew]

[Image from Framework Creative: We created spine medical diagnostic tool for a chain of chiropractors, Back To Health, determined to be at the cutting edge of their industry. Based on a multi-player platform, the patient moves around the virtual representation of their spine in VR whilst the practitioner manipulates and highlights the vertebrae to discuss and better demonstrate each patient’s specific situation.]

Why wearing a virtual reality headset may help to beat back pain: Software can create 3D images to help patients understand their problems

By Rosie Taylor for The Daily Mail
Published: 28 August 2017 | Updated: 29 August 2017

Looking at the skeleton suspended in front of me, I was shocked to see how crooked it was.

The hips tilted over to the right side, the spine to the left and the shoulders hunched over like someone very elderly.

It looked painful. And I knew it was, because this was my back — and it had been causing me problems for about 15 years. I was using virtual reality (VR) technology to see for the first time what could be triggering my back pain and stiffness.

Although I was sceptical at first, something clicked as I examined the 3D image. It suddenly seemed glaringly obvious that my poor posture was putting painful stress on my back and joints.

Seeing my problems ‘in the flesh’ — albeit virtually — finally helped me understand why I might be in pain.

‘Understanding is the first step towards getting better,’ says Matt Flanagan, a chiropractor at Back To Health, the West London clinic behind the technology.

‘If we can’t engage patients with what’s wrong, we’re not going to change their behaviour and get them to stick with their exercises,’ he adds. ‘Virtual reality is a way of communicating we’ve never had before. Patients struggle to fully understand X-rays, but when they see the 3D image, they’re able to join the dots.’ Read more on Can virtual reality and presence help to beat back pain?…

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Call: “Personalized Delivery of Cultural Heritage Content” issue of UMUAI journal

Call for Papers:

Special Issue on “Personalized Delivery of Cultural Heritage Content”
User Modelling and User Adapted Interaction (UMUAI) journal

Abstract due: November 30th, 2017

Digital cultural heritage is now a mature field, in which information technologies are used in the service of preserving cultural heritage. The digital form of resources allows for the exploitation of advances in data analytics, semantics, information retrieval, user interaction, profiling and personalization in order to develop new, exciting and stimulating cultural heritage experiences in tourism and education.

This special issue of the User Modelling and User Adapted Interaction (UMUAI) journal aims to form a reference point for the field of personalized delivery of cultural heritage content. We invite works that present and/or review the current state of the art in theory and practice, as well as promising recent advances in the area of aligning the delivery process for cultural heritage content to the needs, goals, characteristics and preferences of individual users and groups of users. The issue is broad in scope, with the caveat that emphasis should be on the link between cultural heritage and personalization techniques; works dealing exclusively with one of the two topics will be deemed out of scope.

TOPICS OF INTEREST Read more on Call: “Personalized Delivery of Cultural Heritage Content” issue of UMUAI journal…

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There’s now a virtual reality cocktail (and yes, you do get a real drink)

[Vogue’s story below is about the use of presence to enhance the experience of drinking fine liquor. Forbes has additional details and Paste’s coverage includes this: “Currently, Rare Journey is only available at Baptiste & Bottle; however, [national brand ambassador] Raies says similar experiences will likely appear elsewhere once it has been fine tuned. For those looking to create an approximation of the experience at home, Raies recommends The MacallanVR app, which features the Rare Journey VR video. All you need is the cardboard VR viewer for your phone, a bottle of Rare Cask, and the sherry. If you don’t want to download the app, you can still check out the video on YouTube.” For details on the One Aldwych hotel experience see coverage in Conde Nast Traveler. –Matthew]

There’s Now a Virtual Reality Cocktail (and Yes, You Do Get a Real Drink)

August 23, 2017
by Jenny Berg

Today’s cocktailer has seen (and sipped) it all, from drinks made of actual trash to cannabis infusions and libations chilled with striped ice cubes. Is the next step in this augmented drinking experience, well, augmented or virtual reality?

For years, liquor brands have been using virtual reality as a high-tech marketing technique to better acquaint customers with their brands. Patrón tequila, for example, has a VR viewer that connects to an app: The app takes viewers on a virtual tour of the brand’s distillery. Beer brand Dos Equis has placed Oculus Rift headsets in bars to plunk customers into the virtual world of its mascot, The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Now, virtual reality drinks are starting to pop up at restaurants across the world. In London, for example, One Aldwych hotel serves a Dalmore whisky cocktail mixed with cherry puree, grapefruit juice, and VR goggles that transport drinkers to the Scottish Highlands. Stateside, Baptiste & Bottle restaurant at the Conrad Chicago Hotel rolled out the $95 “Macallan Rare Journey” in July. First thing’s first: While billed as a “virtual reality cocktail,” the drink itself is not virtual. It’s real liquor, enhanced with a short video that details the process by which the scotch brand gets its custom casks.

And, don’t worry: You’re not expected to sip while the goggles are blinding your vision. Read more on There’s now a virtual reality cocktail (and yes, you do get a real drink)…

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Job: Fully funded PhD studentship in experience design for sensory storytelling at UWE Bristol

Fully funded 3-year Collaborative PhD Studentship – Experience design for sensory storytelling
UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre

Deadline for applications: Friday September 1, 2017

Applications are open for a three-year full-time Doctoral studentship, fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), to undertake practice-led research into creative forms that engage the senses beyond the audio-visual.

Emerging digital creative technologies are enabling the development of immersive experiences and installations that engage with audiences through senses including touch, taste, smell, thermoception, proprioception. This studentship, based at UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre, offers a unique opportunity for a practice-based exploration of this emerging field, and for the development of a body of work that will be of significant interest among creative practitioners seeking to engage with these novel practices.

Working closely with innovators in the field and through self-directed practice, you will explore approaches to the design and production of these immersive experiences. You will contextualise these practices historically and theoretically, and interrogate what they bring to storytelling. The studentship, a partnership with Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, offers the potential to develop case studies with residents including James Wheale (Understory) and Amy Rose & May Abdalla (Anagram).

Joining an interdisciplinary Design Futures Lab cohort of 12 collaborative PhD students, you will be part of an innovative and cutting-edge group of researchers dedicated to reshaping industrial technologies and processes through embedded practice-based research.

The Digital Cultures Research Centre has a strong track record of successful PhD completions and the studentship provides access to an exciting creative and intellectual community with fellow students researching emerging creative practices. We expect research students to take a full and active role in the Research Centre and to take part in regular workshops, conferences and seminars. The studentship commences October 2017. Read more on Job: Fully funded PhD studentship in experience design for sensory storytelling at UWE Bristol…

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Siri’s voice to be more human in iOS 11

[This short story from iLounge summarizes and links to a detailed post by Apple about how the company is improving the “naturalness, personality, and expressivity of Siri’s voice” for iOS 11; click through to the bottom of that post to listen to several audio clips of Siri in iOS 9, 10 and 11 to hear the impressive differences. For other recent presence-related Siri news, see “AI Programs Are Learning to Exclude Some African-American Voices“ from MIT Technology Review and “To Win The AI Assistant Wars, Apple Is Melding Siri With Its Other Services” from Fast Company. –Matthew]

Read more on Siri’s voice to be more human in iOS 11…

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