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Monthly Archives: June 2018

Call: Critical Robotics – Exploring a New Paradigm (NordiCHI 2018 Workshop)

Call for Papers

Critical Robotics-Exploring a New Paradigm Workshop
10th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI 2018)
Oslo, Norway
Sunday September 30, 2018

Submission deadline: August 10, 2018

Critical Robotics-Exploring a New Paradigm is a workshop held at the 10th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (NordiCHI) in Oslo, Norway, on Sunday September 30, 2018. We invite you to participate and submit a position paper.

In recent years, we have witnessed a rise in voices advocating more human-centered and holistic approaches in research on robotic technology. Towards this end, the adoption of broader perspectives and the exploration of critical questions related to the design and study of these technologies in everyday life have become increasingly pressing. In this workshop, we aim for researchers and industry experts to experience hands-on approaches to explore how we can address critical human-centered perspectives in robotic research and whether critical questions within the area of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) could be considered a new emerging paradigm: critical robotics. In this workshop, we invite researchers to jointly explore critical robotics as a new paradigm. We invite all researchers who are interested in actively connecting with holistic perspectives of societal needs and practices, and want to consider how we as researchers engage in and communicate potential robotic solutions compared to alternative solutions and perspectives.

In order to be admitted to the workshop, write a 2-4 page position paper following the SIGCHI Extended Abstract (

We are interested in reflections and projects concerning critical perspectives on robotic solutions, such as: Read more on Call: Critical Robotics – Exploring a New Paradigm (NordiCHI 2018 Workshop)…

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Will you watch the next World Cup on your coffee table in 3-D? New tech impresses

[This story from King5 TV in Seattle describes a new system that may be a glimpse of how we’ll experience a greater sense of presence in future sports broadcasts. See the original version of the story for a 2:04 minute video report.

Coverage in ZDNet includes additional information and this assessment: “While still in an early development stage, the results are compelling enough to suggest there could be a real future in this kind of system for home sports viewing — and it could come sooner rather than later. … Unlike most newfangled 3D entertainment, this is something I can actually envision using myself.”

For more details including a research paper and a longer video, see the project’s website. –Matthew]

[Image: Source: ZDNet]

3-D soccer: Is this UW’s ultimate goooooooal?

One researcher from the University of Washington wants you to stop looking at screens when you watch soccer and start looking down at your coffee table.

Author: Guiliana Viglione
June 28, 2018

What if you could watch the next World Cup play out on your coffee table in 3-D? Researchers at the University of Washington Reality Lab are hoping to make that science fiction scenario a reality by using sophisticated computing techniques to turn two dimensions into three.

Konstantinos Rematas, a postdoctoral researcher at UW, led the team that developed a program they call “Soccer on your Tabletop.” It takes a simple highlight video and maps it into three dimensions. With the aid of an augmented reality device, the video can be displayed on any flat surface and the viewer can walk around to see the play from different angles. Read more on Will you watch the next World Cup on your coffee table in 3-D? New tech impresses…

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Call: WellComp 2018: First International Workshop on Computing for Well-Being

Call for Papers

WellComp 2018: First International Workshop on Computing for Well-Being
in conjunction with ACM UbiComp 2018
October 8, 2018

Submission Deadline: July 20, 2018


In the advancing ubiquitous computing age, computing technology has already spread into many aspects of our daily lives, such as office work, home and house-keeping, health management, transportation, or even cities. We have been experiencing that much of the influence from those technologies are both contributing better quality of life (QoL) of our individual and organizational lives, and causing new types of stress and pain at the same time. The term “well-being” has recently has gained attention as a term that covers our general happiness and even more concrete good conditions in our lives, such as physical, psychological, and social wellness.

An increasing number of researchers, engineers, and people are paying attention to how their work can contribute to the better quality of lives, social good, and well-being. In spite of recent activities in the academia and the society, unified academic research activities on computing and well-being is anticipated within the ubicomp research community. Active research not only in the HCI domain but in various other ubicomp research areas (systems, mobile/wearable sensing, mobile computing, persuasive applications and services, behavior change, etc.) are needed towards drawing the big picture of “computing for well-being” from different viewpoints and layers of computing. For example, an additional viewpoint of users’ well-being in activity recognition researches may invent new types of applications that comprehensively cover different types of recognition of user’s physical, mental and social activities. Ever since Mark Weiser introduced the term of ubiquitous computing, the ubiquity of computing in our daily lives and the society has been certainly progressing. Now it is time for the community to more seriously envision the benefits that such computing technologies can bring.

Users of digital devices are increasingly confronted with a tremendous amount of notifications that appear on multiple devices and screens in their environment. If a user owns a smartphone, a tablet, a smartwatch and a laptop and an email-client is installed on all of these devices an incoming e-mail produces up to four notifications – one on each device. In the future, we will receive notifications from all our ubiquitous devices. Therefore, we need a smart attention management for incoming notifications. One way for a less interrupting attention management could be the use of ambient representations of incoming notifications.

In this workshop, we will bring together people from industry and academia who are active in the areas of activity recognition, mental health, social good, context-awareness and ubiquitous computing. The main objective of WellComp 2018 is to share the latest research in various areas in computing, related to users’ physical, mental, and social well- being.

The topics of interest include -but are not limited- to the following: Read more on Call: WellComp 2018: First International Workshop on Computing for Well-Being…

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VR pilot training now comes with a sense of touch

[Virtual reality offers advantages over traditional physical mock-up flight simulators, but until now also the important disadvantage of minimal haptic feedback. This (lightly edited) Wired story explains how that’s being addressed. See the original story for two more images, and for more information see the Go Touch VR website. –Matthew]

VR Pilot Training Now Comes With A Sense Of Touch

Ric Adams
June 26, 2018

Aviation simulators—the most valuable training tool pilots have—have to get things right. The instrument panel. The wind and the rain. The response of the aircraft when you flip a switch or pull on the yoke. It all must be as high fidelity, as true to life, as possible. Otherwise, pilots risk uncertainty or disorientation when transferring their simulated experience to the real world.

With the rise of virtual reality-based simulation, in which users wear headsets instead of sitting in a cockpit where everything is real but the view out the windshield, the challenge of maintaining that verisimilitude has really taken off. These systems cost just a few thousand dollars, instead of the tens or hundreds of thousands you pay for a full-size cockpit mockup. They’re smaller and more portable too, a plus for clients like militaries who like the option of training pilots in remote locations.

The downside is that in today’s systems, beside the joystick, rudder pedals, and maybe a throttle lever, all the controls are digital renderings. You “activate” the switches and dials by poking and jabbing into thin air. That amplifies the challenge of VR-based training, where the nuances of touch and movement are essential to programming the pilot’s brain.

One solution—long pursued across many virtual-reality applications, from gaming and design to sex—is haptic feedback. Mechanical actuators placed in contact with different areas of the user’s body, most notably the hands and fingertips, add the sensation of touch to these computer-generated worlds. Now, a French company called Go Touch VR is putting it into action. Read more on VR pilot training now comes with a sense of touch…

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Call: GOODTECHS 2018 – 4th EAI International Conference on Smart Objects and Technologies for Social Good

Call for Papers

GOODTECHS 2018 – 4th EAI International Conference on Smart Objects and Technologies for Social Good
November 28-30, 2018
Bologna, Italy

Paper Submission deadline: 31 July 2018


By social good we refer to a “good” or a service that benefits the largest number of people in the largest possible way. Some classic examples of social goods are, of course, healthcare, safety, environment, democracy, and human rights, but we can add to this classic list even communication, art, entertainment and much more.

In this context, the popularity of portable computing devices, like smartphones, tablets, or smart watches combined with the emergence of many other small smart objects with computational, sensing and communication capabilities coupled with the popularity of social networks and new human-technology interaction paradigms is creating unprecedented opportunities for each of us to do something useful, ranging from a single person to the whole world. Furthermore, Internet of Things, Smart-cities, distributed sensing and Fog computing are representative examples of modern ICT paradigms that aim to describe a dynamic and globally cooperative infrastructure built upon objects’ intelligence and self-configuring capabilities. These connected objects are finding their way into our pockets, vehicles, urban areas and infrastructure, thus becoming the very texture of our society and providing us the possibility, but also the responsibility, to shape it.

In GOODTECHS we are hence interested in experiences with the design, implementation, deployment, operation and evaluation of smart objects and technologies for social good. Clearly, we are not considering only the so called first world as the scenario for this evolution; we also refer to those areas where ICT is currently less widespread, hoping that it may represent a societal development opportunity rather than a source for further divide.

TOPICS Read more on Call: GOODTECHS 2018 – 4th EAI International Conference on Smart Objects and Technologies for Social Good…

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Regulating presence and sex: Making laws and claims without evidence

[As the story below from Motherboard notes, the evolution of technology raises important ethical and legal questions about how “sex dolls, robots, and artificial intelligence will be regulated in the future, and whether legislators are ready to consider the nuances of sex with humanoids.” For two recent related stories see “We Have No Idea What Having Sex With Robots Might Do to Us” in Futurism and “One of the World’s Most Famous Sex Robots Can Now Revoke Her Consent” in Dazed. All of these stories emphasize the need for more research.

Here’s an excerpt from the Futurism article: “Several companies are already working on more advanced bots — one boasts AI software that enables its sexbot to ‘hold long-term persistent conversations’ with humans — and people seem pretty open to giving them a shot. One survey of 263 heterosexual men found that 40 percent could see buying a sexbot for themselves in the next five years. A larger survey of 2,000 men and women in the U.S. found that 49 percent of men would be open to a romp with an ‘enhanced, hyper-realistic’ doll.”


The House Unanimously Passed a Bill to Make Child Sex Robots Illegal

Dan Donovan’s “Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots,” or CREEPER Act, has good intentions—but it’s vague and largely unsupported by strong evidence.

Samantha Cole
Jun 15 2018

Wednesday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that aims to ban the importation and transportation of child sex dolls.

The “Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots (CREEPER) Act,” is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY.)

Even aside from the goofy name, the bill is odd. It’s very short, but makes a lot of big, broad claims. Its name focuses on robots, but humanoid—and child-shaped humanoid robots—aren’t nearly as widespread as their analog doll counterparts. It’s probably not the worst idea to ban child sex robots, but the bill makes a few claims that would seem to be impossible to prove, namely that “dolls and robots not only lead to rape, but they make rape easier by teaching the rapist how to overcome resistance and subdue the victim.”

The bill also claims that “dolls and robots are intrinsically related to abuse of minors, and they cause the exploitation, objectification, abuse, and rape of minors.”

“Right now, a few clicks on a computer can allow a predator to order a vile child sex doll,” Donovan said in a press release. “This is not only disturbing—but also endangers the most innocent among us. Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to a child.”

There isn’t a lot of evidence to support the claims made in the bill, and some researchers have tried to make the argument that child sex dolls could be used—or at least should be considered—to potentially rehabilitate pedophiles.

“There is no research,” David Finkelhor, a professor of sociology and the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told me in an email. “But who’s going to vote against it? It is very likely that people who buy these also have child porn and are at greater risk to commit hands on offenses, but whether the dolls in themselves promote offending or change norms is not clear.” Read more on Regulating presence and sex: Making laws and claims without evidence…

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Call: Change, development and achievement in the L2 classroom: Thinking back and looking ahead – Konin Language Studies special issue

[Submitted to ISPR Presence News by the Konin Language Studies journal]

Call for Papers

Change, development and achievement in the L2 classroom: Thinking back and looking ahead
Special Issue of Konin Language Studies

Read more on Call: Change, development and achievement in the L2 classroom: Thinking back and looking ahead – Konin Language Studies special issue…

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The Weather Channel uses “immersive mixed reality” to simulate a tornado hitting the studio

[The Weather Channel’s new use of mixed reality to engage viewers and educate them about how to stay safe during tornadoes is pretty compelling. This story about it is from AR Post, where the original version includes more images and the full 7:45 minute video segment. –Matthew]

The Weather Channel Launches Mixed Reality Broadcasts

The Weather Channel incorporates immersive mixed reality into their broadcast to demonstrate the power of a tornado.

Gergana Mileva
June 22, 2018

This week The Weather Channel was hit by a tornado—a virtual cataclysm brought forth through immersive mixed reality technology. It was meteorologist Jim Cantore who showed viewers the early stages of a tornado strike all the way up to a catastrophic EF5 behemoth, which eventually wiped out the studio.

The segment aired at three different time slots on the morning of Wednesday, June 20. It began like any other weather program, with the anchor standing before a screen that supposedly shows real-time footage of a tornado. As the funnel cloud started to form and move, a power line can be seen crashing onto the floor of the studio. The anchor then taught viewers a few safety measures when surrounded by downed power lines.

Floating yellow boxes popped out of nowhere, revealing important facts. One of those boxes informed viewers to keep a safe distance from a fallen power pole.

Mixing Education and Entertainment

Cantore’s program is designed to educate and inform, but it also does not fall short of entertaining. It elucidates how such a natural phenomenon can pose risks to people and properties. The meteorologist-turned-anchor laid out the facts as he dodged and yelled as power lines and debris kept on flying into the studio, including a beat-up car.

Using immersive technologies, the network was able to make the studio appear like it was being whiplashed by 200mph winds. It illustrates how far the tornado’s strong winds can carry objects of different weights and sizes.

As the storm got closer to the location, Cantore donned a helmet and ran off screen to take cover. The studio itself was ripped apart by the virtual tornado, leaving nothing but rubble, smoke, and the American flag, which somehow didn’t fall to the ground.

Introducing Interactive Mixed Reality to Broadcasting

The broadcast seemed vaguely similar to a video game. The Norwegian-based developer, The Future Group, might have something to do with that. Together, they fashioned an interactive mixed reality experience using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. Their partnership with The Weather Channel was first announced in April.

Mo-Sys’ newest camera tracking system was also utilized in the process. The Future Group made the virtual experience life-like by using latest particle systems, dynamic textures, and other state-of-the-art effects from the Unreal Engine. Read more on The Weather Channel uses “immersive mixed reality” to simulate a tornado hitting the studio…

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Call: Virtual Reality for Pro-Social Attitude Change – Special issue of New Media & Society

Call for Papers

Virtual Reality for Pro-Social Attitude Change
Special issue of New Media & Society


Tanja Aitamurto, Stanford University
Andrea Stevenson Won, Cornell University
Shuo Zhou, University of Colorado


  • Extended abstract submission deadline: October, 10, 2018
  • Notification on submitted abstracts: November 10, 2018
  • Article submission deadline: February 1, 2019

In recent years, virtual reality (VR) has become a more common medium both in professional and personal consumer use. As a parallel development, the cost of producing and publishing VR content has become easier with new platforms such as YouTube Virtual Reality and Facebook 360°. VR is being produced, published and consumed more than ever, and as a result, virtual reality has permeated numerous domains.

While entertainment and gaming remain dominant contexts, VR is increasingly deployed also in a multitude of civic applications, including education, healthcare, and journalism. One common theme of these applications is using VR for pro-social attitude change. This potential is supported by decades of research showing that traditional game-engine based VR may be a powerful tool for affecting people’s attitudes (Bailenson, 2018). With its immersive features, VR may help users to understand other people’s perspectives better compared with other media. Building on this work, scholarly inquiry has expanded from traditional VR to cinematic virtual reality (CVR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).

These developments create space for a multitude of research questions. Many of the discussions about virtual reality center around its ability to change behavior, for good or ill. Such applications of VR may change or enhance users’ attitudes, leading them to contribute to society positively. This special issue calls for papers with both theoretical and empirical inquiries into the use of VR for pro-social attitude and/or behavioral change toward others. While there is much current interest in virtual reality as a tool for empathy driving prosocial behavior, we are particularly interested in empirical work which refines, defines or problematizes this concept. The research questions we are interested in include, but are not limited to the following:

  • What is the role of VR (and CVR, AR, MR) in contributing to pro-social attitude change?
  • Under what circumstances does pro-social attitude change occur in VR?
  • Under what circumstances might such interventions backfire?
  • How can VR efficiently balance the sense of presence and pro-social attitude change?
  • How should VR interfaces be designed to maximizing the positive effects of VR?
  • What are the ethical considerations related to VR and pro-social attitude change?

The approaches can be multidisciplinary and stem from several disciplines, including communication, psychology, digital humanities, and human-computer interaction.

INFORMATION ABOUT SUBMISSION Read more on Call: Virtual Reality for Pro-Social Attitude Change – Special issue of New Media & Society…

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Dave & Buster’s Jurassic World VR ride goes for safe thrills

[The latest Jurassic World movie just had a successful opening weekend (as reported by CNN); the story below from CNET reviews a new VR-based attraction tied to the film that’s available at over 100 Dave & Buster’s entertainment centers. Both as an experience and from a marketing the standpoint, the verdict is positive. See the original story for a second image and a 1:49 minute video, and for more information see the press release via PR Newswire. –Matthew]

Dave & Buster’s Jurassic World VR ride goes for safe thrills

Mini theme park attraction or massive arcade game?

By Scott Stein
June 15, 2018

Maybe Dave & Buster’s has solved the VR problem: Don’t make large-scale expensive experiences, just go for quick, fun rides. And throw in a lot of virtual dinosaurs.

The first thing I noticed when I saw Dave & Buster’s new Jurassic World: VR Expedition ride, which opened Thursday, is it looks like all the other crazy games at this arcade chain. Neon blue, a large bouncing row of seats, monitors with videos of dinosaurs… it’s flashy, and begs to be ridden.

Some of the recent pop-up location-based VR experiences at movie theaters and elsewhere let players wander around and shoot things with Ready Player One-like haptic vests. Dave & Buster’s is going simpler: you can’t walk anywhere. This is a ride, several minutes long. And it costs only $5, versus the $20-plus that some of the larger-scale VR experiences ask for. HTC Vive headsets come wired into each seat, ready to put on.

The ride is set between the first Jurassic World movie and the newest sequel, Fallen Kingdom, that’s arriving in the US next week.

I didn’t think this is what Dave & Buster’s was planning when it announced that VR was coming to all its locations, but a bunch of my colleagues and I tried it out at the Times Square location in New York, before the ride opened to the public. And… it’s fun! It’s bouncy, realistic and feels like a little mini Disney ride in VR. Read more on Dave & Buster’s Jurassic World VR ride goes for safe thrills…

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