ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: October 2017

Call: Movement: Brain, Body, Cognition – International Conference


Movement: Brain, Body, Cognition
27 – 29 July 2018

Deadline for submission of abstracts: November 30, 2017

Dear colleagues,

We have the distinct pleasure to invite you to the 2018 world conference on Movement and Cognition to be held at Harvard University’s School of Medicine 27-29 July 2018 in Boston.

Among the other institutions involved in this event include the Harvard University School of Medicine’s affiliated hospitals Spaulding Rehabilitation, McLean, and Beth Israel-Deaconess, as well as the Computational Neurosciences Laboratory at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford and the Synthetic Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute for Technology, the School of Medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance,  the School of Health Sciences of University of Haifa, the Wingate Institute for Sports and Exercise Science, the National Institute for Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences, Nazareth, Israel, the Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Havana and the University of the Medical Sciences Facultad ‘Manuel Fajardo’ Havana and the School of Public Health of the University of Havana, Cuba and Bielefeld University in Germany.… read more. “Call: Movement: Brain, Body, Cognition – International Conference”

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Take a walk on Mars — in your own living room

[NASA and Google have launched a new presence experience; here’s a key quote from the NASA news release below: “More than anything, Access Mars offers a visceral impression of what it would be like to walk alongside [the rover] Curiosity, wandering through the lonely, red desert.” The original release includes more images and a 1:11 minute video; see related coverage at GeekWire. –Matthew]

Take a Walk on Mars — in Your Own Living Room

Oct. 19, 2017

When NASA scientists want to follow the path of the Curiosity rover on Mars, they can don a mixed-reality headset and virtually explore the Martian landscape.

Starting today, everyone can get a taste of what that feels like. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience. It’s available for use on all desktop and mobile devices and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets.… read more. “Take a walk on Mars — in your own living room”

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Call: 4th International Congress on Visual Culture

Call for Papers

4th International Congress on Visual Culture
May 28-29, 2018
Rome, Italy

Submit a proposal (a title and an abstract) by December 11, 2017

Dear colleague,

We would like to inform you about the 4th International Congress on Visual Culture that will be held at the Pontificia Università della Santa Croce in Rome, Italy, on May 28-29, 2018. The Congress is a forum for academics focused on the crucial challenges faced by visual culture in today’s world, bringing together local and global perspectives. It is an event that contributes to the exchange of ideas and good practices through the promotion of disciplinary, national, cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity.

We invite all those wishing to participate to submit a proposal, which can be a lecture, a workshop, a poster exhibition, a round table or a colloquium, addressing social sciences through one of the official themes:

Theme 1: Image and Society

  • Mass media.
read more. “Call: 4th International Congress on Visual Culture”
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Is virtual reality the future of dance?

[This story from KQED highlights some of the challenges of establishing and telling stories with presence (even though it never uses the term). See the original version for 5 images and 3 videos. –Matthew]

[Image: Lily Baldwin directing Amari Cheatom, Marni Wood on set of Through You, photo by Cameron Bertron. Source: San Francisco Dance Film Festival.]

Is Virtual Reality the Future of Dance?

By Carla Escoda
October 16, 2017

Those who think virtual reality (VR) is solely the province of gamers, adventure-seekers, and simulation builders may be startled to see how dance-makers are employing the technology on screen. For the first time, the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, which opens on Thursday, Oct. 19 at San Francisco’s Brava Theater, will be screening a handful of 360° and VR dance films that play around with a variety of effects designed to yank the viewer into another world.… read more. “Is virtual reality the future of dance?”

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Call: HRI Pioneers 2018 Workshop

Call for Submissions to HRI Pioneers 2018 Workshop
05 March 2018, Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Twitter: @HRIPioneers

A submission link is live now! https://new.


Nov 3 2017 (11:59 PM PT): Submission Deadline
Dec 22 2017: Notification of acceptance
Jan 12 2018: Final version due


The 13th annual Human-Robot Interaction Pioneers Workshop will be held in Chicago, USA on Monday, March 5, 2018 in conjunction with the 2018 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction.

Pioneers seeks to foster creativity and collaboration surrounding key challenges in human-robot interaction and empower students early in their academic careers. Each year, the workshop brings together a cohort of the world’s top student researchers and provides the opportunity for students to present and discuss their work with distinguished student peers and senior scholars in the field.

Pioneers is a premier forum for graduate students in HRI, thus we invite students at any stage of their academic career to consider applying.… read more. “Call: HRI Pioneers 2018 Workshop”

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New tech turns portraits into photo-realistic videos of facial expressions

[The new technology described in this story from PetaPixel represents another expansion of presence illusions in our lives (and toward traversing the uncanny valley) – note the predicted applications for Facebook near the end. To watch many examples of the technology in action see the Supplementary Materials page of the project’s website. –Matthew]

This Tech Can Turn Portraits Into Photo-Realistic Videos of Facial Expressions

Will Nicholls
October 10, 2017

Researchers at Facebook and Tel Aviv University in Israel have teamed up to bring your selfies to “life.” Using a single still photo of a person’s face, their new technology is able to animate it and introduce different expressions.

The study has developed a technique that will “automatically animate” a still portrait, even a painting, creating various emotions that were not present in the original single frame.

Using a “driving video” (a video of someone performing different expressions), the technology replicates the expressions it observes onto the still image it is provided with.… read more. “New tech turns portraits into photo-realistic videos of facial expressions”

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Job: Data Scientist – Social VR at Oculus (Facebook)

Careers at Oculus
Part of Facebook

Data Scientist – Social VR
(Menlo Park, CA)

At Facebook, our mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Through our family of apps and services, we’re building a different kind of company that connects billions of people around the world, gives them ways to share what matters most to them, and helps bring people closer together. On the Social VR team, we are researching and discovering new ways to build communities with technology of the future. We need someone who is curious and data driven to help us unlock and understand opportunities for building communities with VR- we’re just getting started. As a Data Scientist – Social VR, you will be responsible for using analytics to drive the understanding, growth and success of a suite of social VR products such as Facebook Spaces.… read more. “Job: Data Scientist – Social VR at Oculus (Facebook)”

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Presence videos: “Goodbye Uncanny Valley” and “How David Fincher Steals Your Eyes”

[Two interesting presence-related videos are highlighted in recent entries in Jason Kottke‘s excellent blog. The details are below… –Matthew]

Goodbye Uncanny Valley

Oct 17, 2017

[Also see the comments posted with the video on Vimeo. –Matthew]

For years, the idea of the uncanny valley has dominated computer graphics. Computers were powerful enough to produce real-ish looking people, places, or things but not quite powerful enough to make audiences believe they were actually real…to the point where they’re actually kind of creepy. In this excellent video essay, Alan Warburton argues that the uncanny valley is behind us and previews where CG is headed next.

It’s 2017 and computer graphics have conquered the Uncanny Valley, that strange place where things are almost real… but not quite. After decades of innovation, we’re at the point where we can conjure just about anything with software.… read more. “Presence videos: “Goodbye Uncanny Valley” and “How David Fincher Steals Your Eyes””

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Jobs: Tenured/Tenure-track positions in presence-related areas at University of Texas at San Antonio

Two Tenured/Tenure-track Faculty Positions
Department of Computer Science
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)

Deadline: Applications received by January 2, 2018 will be given full consideration.

The Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) invites applications for two tenured/tenure-track positions, starting in Fall 2018.

TENURE-TRACK ASSISTANT OR TENURED/TENURE-TRACK ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR position in Game-related areas. The focus is on Computer Graphics, especially 3D animation, 3D modeling, and real-time rendering; and/or Human Computer Interaction, especially human computer interfaces, virtual reality, augmented reality, and game analytics. For this position, applications must be submitted through a web portal at

TENURED/TENURE-TRACK ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR position in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, focusing on cyber security, Internet of things, bioinformatics, natural language processing, speech recognition, language understanding, computer vision, or machine learning. This position is part of UTSA’s focused cluster hiring plan under the Gold Star Initiative to recruit top-tier researchers over a four-year period.… read more. “Jobs: Tenured/Tenure-track positions in presence-related areas at University of Texas at San Antonio”

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VR as training ground for AI: Using spatial presence tech to enhance social/medium-as-social-actor presence

[This story from Forbes describes how a technology created to evoke spatial presence is being used to train artificial intelligence and thereby make agents and robots more competent and able to more effectively evoke social and medium-as-social-actor presence. –Matthew]

Virtual Reality is the Next Training Ground for Artificial Intelligence

Simon Solotko , Contributor
October 11, 2017

Virtual reality was imagined as a human simulation technology long before the most recent wave of innovation that brought us the Oculus RIFT and the wave of innovation that followed. Now, rendering high framerate graphics using multiple, stereoscopic points in virtual reality is matching the speed and accuracy of robotic sensors and cameras. By modeling physics, motion, and material interactions, virtual reality is poised to become a simulation tool for training automatons – robots, drones, and diagnostic gear – before they need to perform in the real world.… read more. “VR as training ground for AI: Using spatial presence tech to enhance social/medium-as-social-actor presence”

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