ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: December 2017

Call: 5th International Conference on User Science and Engineering (i-USEr 2018)

28-30 August 2018
Selangor, Malaysia

Submission Dateline: 1st February 2018

We are pleased to inform you that the 5th International Conference on User Science and Engineering 2018 (i-USEr 2018) will be held in Selangor, Malaysia from 28th-30th August 2018. i- USEr 2018 is organized by the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Research Group, Faculty of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia.

i-USEr 2018 aims to address the main issues of concern within Human Computer Interaction with a particular emphasis on the aspects of design, development and implementation of interfaces and the generational implications for design of human and technology interaction.

The growth of HCI field has traversed across disciplines and technological aspects encompassing elements that are both tangible and intangible. It’s hard to exclude HCI from domains of Informatics, Internet of Everywhere, Quality of Life and others, more so with diverse range of users and possibilities. The marriage between HCI and various application domains has resulted into a variety of user requirements, needs and experience, converting to ever-changing conditions. In retrospect, we explore challenges in designing diversity across different HCI domains. In line with these transformations, i-USEr 2018 chose “Traverse to Diverse” as the theme for this conference.

CONFERENCE TRACKS (not limited to):

  • Designing for User Experience and Usability
  • HCI and IT Infrastructure
  • HCI and e-Services / Industry 4.0
  • Urban Science and Mobility
  • Human-centered Computing
  • HCI for the Underserved
  • Technology and Adoption
  • Social and Collaborative Technologies
  • Digital Privacy and Security
  • Smart Monitoring in Physical Spaces
  • Emotions and Brain
  • HCI and Analytics
  • HCI and Domestic Technologies
  • HCI and Citizen Science

Read more on Call: 5th International Conference on User Science and Engineering (i-USEr 2018)…

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(Presence) technology trends that will transform our world in 2018

[The last two of the four predictions for the coming year in this story from Fortune directly involve presence. More predictions are available from Gartner via Forbes and from designboom.

Best wishes to all of us for a safe, healthy, productive and happy 2018! Hope to see you in Prague in May!


[Image: Source: Forbes]

4 Technology Trends That Will Transform Our World in 2018

By Jay Samit, independent vice chairman of Deloitte’s Digital Reality practice and author of the bestselling book “Disrupt You!”
December 26, 2017

Predicting the future requires hubris, and it should therefore be met with more than a terabyte of skepticism. In past years, I’ve made some calls that have proved prescient like predicting way back in 2011 that social media would determine the U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, some took decades longer than I had foreseen such as my 1992 prediction that this new thing called the Internet would lead Hollywood studios to merge with telecommunications companies.

Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way to predict the future is to hang out with the people creating it. When you work with a top consultancy and have leading technology innovators as clients, it’s pretty easy to recognize trends that have the greatest potential impact.

Here are my top four tech trends for 2018: Read more on (Presence) technology trends that will transform our world in 2018…

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Call: Natural Language Generation for Spoken Dialogue Systems – Special issue of Dialogue & Discourse

Call for papers for a special issue on Natural Language Generation (NLG) for Spoken Dialogue Systems (SDS) to be published as part of the Dialogue & Discourse journal.

Deadline for submissions: January 20, 2018

Language generation for dialogue requires sophistication in modeling the context of the dialogue, as well as methods that are sensitive to the rhetorical structure of a turn, and to the requirement that turns in dialogue are typically incremental and structured as oral, rather than written language. We therefore especially invite submissions which address these gaps, whether by introducing novel statistical or neural approaches or by leveraging data to improve natural language generation for dialogue using a more traditional architecture.

Dialogue and Discourse (D&D) is the first peer-reviewed free open access journal dedicated exclusively to work that deals with language “beyond the sentence”. The journal adopts an interdisciplinary perspective, accepting work from Linguistics, Computer Science, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and other associated fields with an interest in formally, technically, empirically or experimentally rigorous approaches. We are committed to ensuring the highest editorial standards and rigorous peer-review of all submissions, while granting open access to all interested readers.

As of April 2017, D&D has published 57 papers, and the journal’s h-index is 16. D&D is endorsed by SIGdial, SemDial, and AMLaP. D&D is indexed by Scopus and the European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Submissions are made via the online submission system at http://www.dialogue-and-dis Read more on Call: Natural Language Generation for Spoken Dialogue Systems – Special issue of Dialogue & Discourse…

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Google’s voice-generating AI is now indistinguishable from humans

[It’s sometimes hard to remember how quickly the technologies behind machines that we speak to and that speak to us have developed, and how many of us are interacting with machines this way (e.g., see a recent Pew Research report). The short story below from Quartz and the audio samples it includes and links to demonstrate how good the technologies are becoming at evoking presence. –Matthew]

Read more on Google’s voice-generating AI is now indistinguishable from humans…

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Call: Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) 2018

Call for Contributions

FDG 2018: The International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG)
7-10 August 2018
Malmö, Sweden

Workshop Proposals due: February 12, 2018
Full and Short Papers due: March 12, 2018

The International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) is a major international event. It seeks to promote the exchange of information concerning the foundations of digital games, technology used to develop digital games, and the study of digital games and their design, broadly construed. The goal of the conference is the advancement of the study of digital games, including but not limited to new game technologies, critical analysis, innovative designs, theories on play, empirical studies, and data analysis.

FDG 2018 will include presentations of peer-reviewed papers (with rebuttal process), invited talks by high-profile industry and academic leaders, panels, workshops, and posters. The conference will also host a game competition, tech demo session, and a doctoral consortium. This year’s FDG conference will nominate two papers with honorable mention and one best paper from each track. Read more on Call: Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) 2018…

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How augmented and virtual reality will reshape the food industry

[This story from TechCrunch by a professional chef highlights three categories of ways presence experiences will shape the food industry, with lots of links to interesting examples. –Matthew]

[Image: London’s City Social “Sea Marshall“ augmented reality cocktail. Credit: Addie Chinn. Source: The Telegraph]

How augmented and virtual reality will reshape the food industry

December 26, 2017
Jenny Dorsey

Augmented reality content can be found on everything from wine bottles to IKEA’s catalog and virtual reality experiences are much more detailed, with rich layers of interactivity from hand controllers to gaze triggers, and a VR film has even won an Oscar. With Apple and Google both debuting augmented reality platforms (ARKit and ARCore, respectively), Facebook heavily invested in its Oculus headset and Amazon unveiling augmented shopping features, AR and VR is primed to change many parts of our everyday lives.

Within the food industry, AR and VR have also begun to make headway. Although development costs are still high, more and more F&B businesses are beginning to realize the potential of AR/VR and see it as a worthwhile investment. Three main areas – human resources, customer experiences, food products – have seen the most concentration of AR/VR development so far and will likely continue to push the envelope on what use cases AR & VR have within the industry. Read more on How augmented and virtual reality will reshape the food industry…

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Call: PETRA’18, 11th Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments conference

Call for Papers: The 11th ACM PETRA Conference
June 26-29, 2018
Corfu, Greece

Submission deadline: January 23, 2018

The 11th PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments (PETRA) conference is a highly interdisciplinary conference that focuses on computational and engineering approaches to improve the quality of life and enhance human performance in a wide range of settings, in the workplace, at home, in public spaces, urban environments, and other. Outcomes of this conference have a broad impact in application areas that include, manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, energy systems, security and safety, robotics, biomedicine, environment and conservation, and many others. Please visit for more information.


January 23, 2018:  Full/Short/Poster Papers [EXTENDED]
January 23, 2018:  Doctoral Consortium Applications [EXTENDED]
March 02, 2018:  Workshop Papers


  1. Accessibility and the Smart City: Technological Challenges and Open Accessibility Issues
  2. DAEM2: The 2nd International Workshop on Designing Assistive Environments for Manufacturing
  3. NOTION: Human Behaviour Monitoring, Interpretation and Understanding
  4. PEARL: Patient data acquisition, analysis, profiling and personalized care plan
  5. RobAssist: Robotic Assistive Systems for People with Disabilities
  6. Social Robots: A Workshop on the Past, the Present and the Future of Digital Companions
  7. Smart Cities: Enhancing Citizens’ life and activities

Industrial Workshops:

  1. Supporting the Development of Assistive Systems for Older People
  2. Industrial Perspectives on Assistive Systems for Manual Assembly Tasks

PETRA TOPICS OF INTEREST include, but are not limited to: Read more on Call: PETRA’18, 11th Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments conference…

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NFL Films working to perfect presence experiences with docuseries ‘NFL Immersed’

[This story from Sport Techie is an update on what NFL Films is learning as its team works to create presence experiences of (American) football games (the fact that the new season of NFL Immersed features the Philadelphia Eagles, my hometown team, is purely coincidence!). –Matthew]

Virtual Reality Production Enhanced For Docuseries ‘NFL Immersed’

December 20, 2017
Mitch Reames

Since its inception in 1964, NFL Films has won more than 100 Emmys for its work documenting the NFL’s stories and gameplay. NFL Films has also extended its work into virtual reality with the show “NFL Immersed.”

The first three episodes of the second season are now available, and they follow Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long and his work both on and off the field.

“I love telling stories in VR,” NFL Films producer Jason Weber said. “We have been making football stories for a long time, but this is a new area and we have been learning a lot.” Read more on NFL Films working to perfect presence experiences with docuseries ‘NFL Immersed’…

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Call: “Digital Entertainment for Special Needs, Special Needs for Digital Entertainment” for G/A/M/E

Call for Papers

G/A/M/E: The Italian Journal of Game Studies
Special Issue: “Digital Entertainment for Special Needs, Special Needs for Digital Entertainment”

CFP online:

Guest Editors:
Dr. Enrico Gandolfi (Kent State University) (
Dr. Richard E. Ferdig (Kent State University) (
Dr. Kaybeth Calabria (Franciscan University of Steubenville) (

Abstracts due by: January 20, 2018

It is well known that videogames represent the driving sector of the current entertainment with an excepted business of 90 billion dollars in 2016 (NewZoo 2015). Furthermore, the supporting technology is often at the cutting edge (e.g., Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens, PlayStation VR) and constantly in progress (e.g., social games, cloud gaming, holograms). Along with such a rising popularization, sectorial trends and orientations are getting more and more articulated going beyond the mere escapism: serious games, newsgames, and persuasive games (e.g., Bogost, 2011; Djaouti et al., 2011) are now well-established genres that are able to deal with a remarkable range of issues. The educational and pro-active implications of the medium are noteworthy as well and different fields and disciplines are increasingly applying them toward a multitude of audiences and issues (Ferdig, 2014; Gee, 2007). Moreover, phenomena like the reaction to Gamergate scandals are glaring signals that the game industry is embracing a turning point in terms of representation and equal opportunities. To summarize, it can be argued that the sector is now more different and diversified than in the past.

Nevertheless, special needs still foster blurry reflections and engender discontinuous efforts in video game landscapes. With this broad term, the reference is to physical, cognitive and even socio-cultural conditions than require specific interventions in everyday life routines, learning activities, general accessibility (etc.). Eligible factors vary from mental retardation and sight/hearing impairments to racial background and age. A contiguous and more defined concept is Special Education, which means “specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability” (20 U.S.C. 1401(29)) (for more information about related media implementation see Fage et al., 2014; Kagohara et al., 2013). The implication of embracing special needs in digital entertainment points to usability, engagement and representation in design, production and final consumption. In addition, it might trigger an instrumental perspective in exploiting videogames to improve the state of individuals with disabilities/suffering biases (e.g., ludic experiences that enrich autonomy and social skills) and empowering their participation, which is a fundamental human right (UNICEF, 1990). Unsurprisingly, supportive and communicative efforts of foundations like AbleGamers Charity and Special Effect are increasing all around the world as well as the attention given by academy (e.g., EPINOIS R&D project, Games for Health conferences) and majors (e.g., Activision-Blizzard, Microsoft, Sony) to the assistive potential of the medium. Scholars and researchers are increasingly addressing the topic (Carr, 2014; Champlin, 2014; Ledder, 2015) and exploring on how special needs can benefit from the medium (e.g., Anthony et al., 2012; Nardi & Lim, 2011; Powers et al., 2015; Saridaki, Gouscos & Meimaris, 2009; Yuan, Folmer, & Harris, 2011).Finally, development guidelines have been proposed (as the ones suggested by Universally Accessible Games, Serious Games Initiative, IGDA game accessibility interest group, and International Game Developers Association) and specific titles explicitly addressed the topic (e.g., Drospy, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, If…).

However, although these premises are encouraging and prove the potential of such an association, we are at a standstill in comprehending:

  1. how game industry concretely frames and supports special needs in terms of interaction, representation and customization;
  2. what policies and affordances should be applied to satisfy special needs through digital games;
  3. conversely, what suggestions and insights special needs-related expertise, professionals and involved audiences can provide to game industry as sources of diversity, inclusion and accessibility.

In light of these questions, the special issue Digital Entertainment for Special Needs, Special Needs for Digital Entertainment aims to stimulate both theoretical and empirical outcomes aimed to enlighten the relation between special needs and video games. Contributions from Game Studies, Media Studies, Disability Studies, HCI field, Science and Technology Studies, Psychology and Sociology (and so on) are welcome along with pieces by educators, developers and stakeholders dealing with such a potential interplay. Accordingly, this thematic call also seeks risky and game-changer proposals in order to frame and even suggest future moves in multiple directions, from design stimuli to therapeutic applications. Therefore, implications aim to be significant for a wide range of audiences including scholars, researchers, practitioners and caregivers. The final objective is to outline a coherent and multi-angle overview of the topic and take a step forward for supporting a pro-active synergy between digital games and special needs.

Topics of interest may include but are not limited to: Read more on Call: “Digital Entertainment for Special Needs, Special Needs for Digital Entertainment” for G/A/M/E…

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Take a home tour with a telepresence robot

[Here’s another clever application of technology that provides social presence; note the comment from a potential renter that getting a tour of the property “was like having somebody there, just in a different shape.” The story is from CNBC, where it includes a 0:39 minute video report. For more information and a 1:39 minute promotional video see coverage in Curbed SF. A story in Inman has even more information, reporting that “[i]n 2015, the industry reacted somewhat negatively to a company developing similar technology called Zip Tours. Zenplace replaces the handheld video call used by Zip Tours with a taller, slimmer Roomba.” –Matthew]

Take a home tour with a robot

Diana Olick
Friday, 15 Dec 2017

There was no one home when Avisheh Madani arrived to tour a San Francisco rental property. No one human, that is.

Madani, 35, used a code from an app to unlock the door and was greeted immediately by a robot.

“It was definitely weird,” she said.

The robot, really a moveable video monitor, is the brainchild of Zenplace, a rental management company based in San Francisco and expanding quickly across the nation. The company developed the software itself, which doesn’t look like a classic robot, although it does have a face: the real face of the rental agent. Essentially it’s a roving screen showing a live person in another location.

“Robots are part of our end-to-end solutions,” said Rahul Mewawalla, CEO of Zenplace. “What our robots really do is reduce the leasing period and cut down vacancy times for owners. Tenants can now literally go from seeing a place they like to renting it out in a matter of minutes versus the days and weeks it traditionally took.”

The rental agent talks to the prospective renter through the screen and can also move the device throughout the home. In addition to the live agent, the robot can provide real-time data about the neighborhood, amenities, and rental trends, such as pricing. It also has a lease application, so the renter can apply on the spot. Read more on Take a home tour with a telepresence robot…

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