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Monthly Archives: June 2018

Call: Zip-Scene Conference – Analogue and Digital Immersive Environments

Call for Papers

Zip-Scene Conference – Analogue and Digital Immersive Environments
Perspectives on Digital Interactivity and Narrative in Performing Arts and VR
Venue: Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, Hungary
Dates: 8-10 November, 2018
http://mome.hu/hu/h%C3%ADrek/1704-zip-scene-conference-analogue-and-digital-immersive-environments-call-for-papers

Extended deadline for abstracts/bios: June 25, 2018

TOPIC: Game mechanics and other engaging interactive design strategies to raise the level of interactivity in immersive performance art and VR productions

SHORT DESCRIPTION:

Digital Interactivity provides novel opportunities for narratives in performance art and VR productions. This means emerging artistic practices, opportunities for critical reflection, and a reconsideration of the roles of the author and the audiences as participants.

One aim of the conference is to investigate whether the format of VR will acquire a status comparable to film, performing arts and video games in the near future. We are planning to explore what kind of storytelling strategies and simulative spaces can be used in such immersive productions, and how much the audience will be able to and would want to engage with control over the narrative path.

Another aim of the conference is to explore how play and game can be interpreted as different types of performances within the genre of mixed-reality theatre and immersive theatre. In both cases, it is also important to focus more closely on how this immersive medium can handle the first person “audience” while co-creating the story with them, and how is this influencing the narrative mechanics.

We are also expecting papers that question the “empathy machine” myth that is mainly related to VR technologies, but which also haunts mixed reality productions. Focusing more on the different tactics and strategies to achieve empathy mechanics is important in order to point out whether the recipient empathizes with the creator of the work, rather than the subjects of the creation, as Fisher states[1] . But it is worth to challenge these strategies by more thoroughly analyzing how to create the sensation of reality and presence in order to engage the users or what kind of mechanics of persuasive game design are these productions using.

Immersion is one of the keywords used in defining new artistic and work environments, which refers to a feature of such environments that can enhance audiences’ perception of being transported somewhere „else”. Transdisciplinary creators are experimenting and making use of playfulness in their works by adapting video game mechanics and narrative design strategies, in order to create fully immersive environments. These environments can be analyzed on several levels: their overall aesthetics, their authorial affordances, from a design perspective, and as a consideration of the audience’s experience, especially, their engaging and empowering mechanisms and last but not least, as interactive narratives. Some possible perspectives (additional ones welcome) include Murray’s affordances and aesthetic qualities of the digital medium[2] , Bogost’s procedural rhetoric[3] , Kwastek’s “aesthetics of interactivity”[4], multi-sensorial experience atmospheres (based on Gernot Böhme’s concept[5]), the trajectories offered by them (based on Benford-Giannachi’s concept[6]) or as interactive narrative systems (Koenitz, 2015)[7].

It is important and challenging to compare the design strategies of site-specific live arts productions with those of VR works, which also create the experience of full immersivity and presence for their users-turned-participants. For interactive VR-experiences, Jesse Damiani’s taxonomy[8] can serve as a possible interpretation strategy that also applies to forms such augmented reality, virtual reality, and  mixed reality.

We are looking forward to receive papers that deal with hermeneutical and phenomenological research as well as pilot studies.

CONFERENCE THEMES:

  • Interactive storytelling methods
  • Interactive videos
  • Video games
  • Location-based technology (with augmented reality)
  • Virtual reality experiences&movies
  • Augmented reality in interactive storytelling
  • Games-based performing arts practices using new technology tools
  • Interactive Museum
  • Immersive environments (media archeology and phenomenological approach)

Proposals may be for a paper or a panel and should be related to at least one of the conference themes. Deadline for submitting the proposals is June 25, 2018. Read more on Call: Zip-Scene Conference – Analogue and Digital Immersive Environments…

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How eye tracking in VR can be a valuable tool for researchers and designers

[Because it can evoke presence, virtual reality represents a powerful venue for researchers if we have the tools to measure user responses during the experience; this story from Forbes describes one such tool and its potential. See the original story for a second image and follow the link to Tobii Pro for more information. –Matthew]

Looking Through Your User’s Eyes With Virtual Reality Gaze Tracking

Alice Bonasio, CONTRIBUTOR – I cover the intersection between business and immersive technologies
June 21, 2018

Eye-tracking technology is nothing new in itself, but it is gaining rapidly both in scope and popularity as immersive virtual experiences become more widely used both in business and leisure contexts.

This type of technology is a natural fit for VR, as most headsets have inbuilt eye-tracking technology to allow them to deliver immersive experiences in the first place, as gaze is one of the primary ways in which you interact with those types of environment.

After developing eye-tracking commercial solutions for years, Swedish company Tobii Pro is now bringing to market a new analytical tool which leverages these capabilities in Tobii Pro VR.

The tool integrates into Unity environments and allows eye-tracking studies to be conducted within 3D virtual reality environments. It also comes with automated features for visualizing and measures what a user sees, tracking their interactions and navigations within a simulated world. Read more on How eye tracking in VR can be a valuable tool for researchers and designers…

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Call: “Motion-Based Games and Play” issue of Multimodal Technologies and Interaction

Call for Papers

Multimodal Technologies and Interaction – Special Issue “Motion-Based Games and Play”

Website: http://www.mdpi.com/journal/mti/special_issues/motion-based_gamesplay

Submission Deadline: 15 January 2019

Dear Colleagues,

We are currently guest editing a special issue of the open access journal Multimodal Technologies and Interaction that will focus on Motion-based Games and Play and we invite you to consider a submission.

Moving our bodies is one of the most natural things to do as human beings. We engage in movement from early childhood, and it can be an extremely powerful, joyful experience. Looking at sports, artistry, and dance, the level of control, mastery and virtuosity can be truly baffling, deeply engaging both the performer and the audience.

With this special issue, we want to address the question of how to design complex, engaging, and inherently pleasant motion-based games that capture the positive elements of movement. Further, we aim to explore their application in settings that aim to improve player wellbeing, along with tackling other relevant challenges in their development:

  • What is the relationship between movement-tracking technology and playful experiences? How can novel technologies contribute to richer, more enjoyable movement-based interaction? Moving beyond movement tracking to feedback, what are the benefits of integrating additional elements such as haptics?
  • How can we design playful experiences that truly capture the inspiring nature of real-world movement, e.g., sports or dance? How can we incorporate movement not only as input for games, but also as a visual element that provides players with an immersive, rewarding experience?
  • How can motion-based games be designed to provide inclusive and engaging experiences for all audiences (including young children, older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals with specific health needs)?

Specifically addressing the challenge of leveraging movement-based play to improve well-being, games for health are one important focus area of this issue, and there are many more specific questions, for example: What are the main challenges when integrating movement-based play in healthcare settings, for example, to support rehabilitation in hospitals or in the home? Are there design challenges specific to movement-based games for health that contradict design approaches for regular motion-based games and play? How do we need to design movement-based games to not only meet the needs of patients, but also those of healthcare staff?

We welcome submissions covering technical aspects, but also design studies and guidelines. While motion-based games for health are certainly one focus of this special issue, we are determined to showcase the full breadth of this important area, and thus invite submissions discussing motion-based games in general, or adopting interdisciplinary perspectives such as examples from the area of play in the performing arts. Read more on Call: “Motion-Based Games and Play” issue of Multimodal Technologies and Interaction…

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VR and presence are helping chemists discover new life-enhancing drugs

[This story from Wired describes how biochemists are using virtual reality and the sense of presence it creates to better understand and manipulate the structure of molecules and improve the process of discovering effective drugs. See the original story for a 1:29 minute video. –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: C4X Discovery]

Virtual reality is helping chemists discover new life-enhancing drugs

What one thing do scientists really need to help them discover new life-saving drugs? Virtual reality

By Phoebe Braithwaite
13 June 2018

Blue skies, streaked with clouds – an unending expanse of grid to stand on – and one massive molecule: in the drug-discovering virtual world, for the first time, scientists can get up close and personal with the drugs they’re designing. Grabbing hold of a virtual molecule, floating in space before them, using two lightsaber-wielding claw-like hands, the chemist can get as close to touching the desired structure as is (meta)physically possible.

Drug discovery company C4X Discovery (C4XD) has developed its own VR tool, 4Sight, to help its chemist visualise the structure of complex molecules and come up with new drugs. C4XD develops new drugs for conditions like cancer and chronic addiction – the company is, for instance, working with pharmaceutical company Indivior.

Biochemists at C4XD are today using virtual reality technology to develop drugs which treat respiratory conditions and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and dementia. The company had been using its incredibly detailed proprietary database in its work, and have just partnered with Invidior to try developing a drug that treats addiction. This database records an unusually high level of information about each drug molecule, the different formations it takes, and how often they take them. But, over the past six months, chemists at the company have begun using 4Sight to develop new drugs.

“Starting to use VR was quite transformative, because all of a sudden the molecules become part of my world and I can manipulate them in space just ahead of me, like you would do comparing two oranges and two apples,” says Thorsten Nowak, medicinal chemist at C4XD. With the VR platform, drug discovery “became as visual as it can really ever be”. Read more on VR and presence are helping chemists discover new life-enhancing drugs…

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Call: 10th International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR 2018)

CALL FOR PAPERS

The 10th International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR 2018)
November 28-30, 2018
Qingdao, China
http://uconf.org/ICSR2018/

IMPORTANT DATES
Workshop proposal: July 1, 2018
Paper submission: July 31, 2018
Paper notification: Sept 22, 2018
Final camera-ready paper submission: Oct 7, 2018
Conference: November 28-30, 2018

The 10th International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR 2018) brings together researchers and practitioners working on the interaction between humans and intelligent robots and on the integration of robots into the fabric of our society.

The intersection of Social Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are bound to disrupt the status quo in our homes, factories, healthcare services, and transportation, among others. In the foreseeable future, Social Robotics and AI will help drive economic growth and will be the new normal. ICSR 2018 aims to foster discussions in the development of AI models and frameworks, robotic embodiments, and behaviors that further encourages invention and innovation. The forum will look into the potential of these technologies and give insights to address the challenges and risks.

The conference welcomes original contributions describing technically rigorous scientific and philosophical advances in the area of social robotics and AI: innovative ideas and concepts, new discoveries and improvements, novel applications on the latest fundamental advances in the core technologies that form the backbone of social robotics, distinguished developmental projects, as well as seminal works in aesthetic design, ethics and philosophy, studies on social impact and influence pertaining to social robotics, and its interaction and communication with human beings and its social impact on our society.

The topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Affective and cognitive sciences for socially interactive robots
  • Context awareness, expectation, and intention understanding
  • Control architectures for social robotics
  • Human augmentation, rehabilitation, and medical robots
  • Interaction and collaboration among robots, humans, and environments
  • Personal robots for the home
  • Robot applications in education, entertainment, and gaming
  • Robot ethics in human society
  • Robots that can adapt to different users
  • Robots to assist the elderly and persons with disabilities
  • Robots with personality
  • Safety in robots working in human spaces
  • Socially assistive robots to improve quality of life
  • Social acceptance and impact in the society
  • Socially appealing design methodologies

SUBMISSION OF PAPERS Read more on Call: 10th International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR 2018)…

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Predicting and promoting shared presence at CES Asia

[This story from TechRadar demonstrates the increasingly common recognition of the central role of presence in the evolution of technology, includes observations about the use of fictional portrayals to promote presence technologies and experiences, and argues that shared presence experiences are and should remain superior to private ones. The original story includes an additional image; see the CES Asia 2018 website for more details about that recent event. –Matthew]

Forget Ready Player One – the future of VR is a physical experience

Time for a reality check

By Cat Ellis
June 14, 2018

CES Asia is a full-on experience. The show floor is spread between five fiercely air-conditioned halls the size of aircraft hangars, while expert keynote speeches and roundtables take up the entire upper level of the adjacent Kerry Hotel.

The atmosphere is electric in both senses, but some guests don’t seem to care. They’ve trekked to Shanghai – sometimes thousands of miles – to see how the latest virtual reality (VR) tech can transport them somewhere else again.

It seems a shame, but according to Steve Koenig, VP of research at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), immersing ourselves in VR will soon be a valid lifestyle choice. “It really comes down to one single word: presence,” he says in a round-table talk on future tech trends. “When you talk about virtual reality, that sense of presence can be game-changing, not just for actual gaming, but also for education and medicine.”

Koenig believes we’re at a tipping point regarding mainstream acceptance of VR and augmented reality (AR), and draws parallels between emerging technology and the virtual world presented in sci-fi film Ready Player One. Read more on Predicting and promoting shared presence at CES Asia…

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Call: Ubiquitous Chatbots – Workshop on Wearable and Embodied Conversational Agents @Ubicomp’18

Call for Papers
Ubiquitous Chatbots – Workshop on Wearable and Embodied Conversational Agents @Ubicomp’18

Workshop date: October 12, 2018
Workshop Location: Ubicomp’18; Singapore. See: http://ubicomp.org/ubicomp2018/
Workshop web site:  https://sites.google.com/view/ubiquitous-chatbots/

Deadline for submissions: July 9, 2018
Response to authors: July 30, 2018
Camera ready submission deadline: August 10, 2018

HOW TO JOIN THE WORKSHOP

We invite researchers in the UbiComp and CHI communities interested in the theoretical basis, design, implementation, and evaluation of novel conversational agents to submit position papers or preliminary results in the field. Authors are asked to submit 4-6 page papers related to their work on chatbots and conversational agents using the SIGCHI Extended Abstract format.

Please send your submission via e-mail to the workshop chairs at ubiquitouschatbots@gmail.com. The position papers will be reviewed by a program committee composed of international experts. A notification will be sent by July 30. Accepted papers will be included in the ACM Digital Library and in the adjunct proceedings of the conference. Camera ready versions are of the accepted papers are due by August 10.

WORKSHOP OBJECTIVE

The workshop aims to establish itself as the premiere shared forum for conversational agents in a ubiquitous context. We aim at involving researchers and practitioners, particularly those who are seeking new insights for understanding how conversational agents will evolve in the future.

We want to create a multidisciplinary space where researchers can discuss how these technologies should evolve to be integrated with existing practices, individual needs and levels of technical expertise, effectively supporting a variety of people’s tasks and goals in their everyday lives.

In particular the workshop aims at discussing conversational agents that can be embedded in the daily routines of the users through wearable interfaces and/or embodied representations of the agent (e.g., smart companions).

The long-term objective of the workshop is to build a community interested in sharing ideas on conversational agents. This includes researchers with different backgrounds, from engineers and computer scientists, to designers, social scientists, ethnographers and psychologists.

WORKSHOP TOPICS

The workshop aims at gathering contributions for the design of chatbots that are embedded in the user’s daily life through wearable embedded or embodied interfaces. This is a non-exhaustive list of topics for the workshop position papers:

  • Wearable chatbot interfaces
  • Embodied conversational agents
  • Talking companions
  • Conversational virtual coaches for physical activity and well-being
  • Data collection and presentation from conversational coaches
  • Chatbots for quantified self
  • Context-aware conversations
  • Chatbots for supporting daily activities
  • Long-term usage of chatbots
  • Design methods for ubiquitous chatbots

WORKSHOP ACTIVITIES

The workshop will be structured in two parts. In the first part, participants will present position papers and discuss the current trends in the field. In the second part, participants will work in group for designing wearable or embodied conversational agents for different application domains. Read more on Call: Ubiquitous Chatbots – Workshop on Wearable and Embodied Conversational Agents @Ubicomp’18…

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VR and presence capture cultures and landscapes before they’re lost to rising sea

[This story is about the use of virtual reality to preserve the experiences of people and places, “cultures and landscapes,” being lost to the rising sea. As with our use of photos and recordings, and perhaps soon more immersive technological artifacts, to preserve our personal and family memories, this is an extremely meaningful, valuable and important application of presence technologies. The story is from Hakai Magazine, where it includes a second image; follow the My visit with Billiot link to watch a video of the VR experience described in the story. –Matthew]

[Image: Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, home of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw band, is disappearing as it loses land to the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Coco Robicheaux/Alamy Stock Photo.]

Virtual Reality Preserves Disappearing Land

Coastal communities are capturing their cultures and landscapes in virtual reality before sea level rise steals them for good.

by Brian Owens
June 18th, 2018

It’s a sunny day in southern Louisiana, and I’m sitting on a porch listening to 91-year-old Wenceslaus Billiot, the oldest member of the Isle de Jean Charles band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, describe how the island has changed throughout his long life.

“When I was a kid, my daddy and I would go to Montagut in a pirogue to get groceries,” he says, as a breeze stirs the wooden wind chime by my side. “We used to trap [muskrat]. Then when we sold the furs, we’d go make a grocery bill for the summertime.”

There is no trapping on Isle de Jean Charles anymore, and looking out from Billiot’s porch it’s easy to see why. Not even 100 meters away—beyond the protective ring levee that girds what remains of the island—is open water. The wetlands where Billiot and his father once hunted are gone. Since 1955, the island has lost 98 percent of its land to erosion, subsidence, and a rising sea. Soon it will lose most of its inhabitants, too.

Two years ago, the Isle de Jean Charles band received US $48-million from the federal and state governments to relocate the community to a new site about 50 kilometers inland, likely within the next few years. The move made the band the first government-recognized climate refugees in the country.

When it’s time for my visit with Billiot to end, I take off the virtual reality headset. Suddenly, I’m back in a classroom at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocordrie, an hour’s drive from Isle de Jean Charles.

In reality, Wenceslaus Billiot died in March. But in virtual reality, his memories and his stories, as well as the experience of visiting his home—to drink in the sights and sounds of the disappearing island—will live on. Read more on VR and presence capture cultures and landscapes before they’re lost to rising sea…

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Call: EAI Transactions on E-Learning

European Alliance for Innovation (EAI)
EAI Transactions on E-Learning
CALL-FOR-PAPERS for the Upcoming Issue

Journal Website (EU Digital Library): http://eudl.eu/issue/el/4/16
Submission Instructions: http://eudl.eu/static/Submission-Instructions.pdf

Manuscript submission deadline: June 15, 2018 but extensions to June 30, 2018 can be negotiated with the Chief Editors

Established in 2011, the EAI Transactions on e-Learning has been showcasing exemplary research and practice covering the design, development, and implementation of e-Learning in all settings, with a focus on higher education and K-12. With the emergence of new technologies and the fast globalization of learning, it is time to redefine e-Learning and to envision the future of learning. This important mission relies on researchers and practitioners who have been running in the forefront of creating adaptive and engaging learning for the diverse audiences around the globe.

For the upcoming issue, we are looking for original submissions on innovative research, technologies, and/or tools related to online, mobile, hybrid, and augmented learning in both education and training. Our goal is to uncover and discuss emerging trends and technologies, sound research and best practices, successful products and services within an international and interdisciplinary community.

We welcome manuscripts that address one or more of the following topics:

  • Accessibility and usability of online instruction in both formal and informal learning
  • Assessment of e-Learning: process and learning outcomes
  • Best Practices in designing and developing e-Learning
  • Collaborative learning, social media, and social networks
  • Culturally adaptive teaching and learning
  • Emerging systems, technologies, and trends
  • Open education resources in teaching and learning
  • Large-scale design and implementation of mobile learning
  • Security and privacy in e-Learning systems
  • Social and organizational perspectives related to e-Learning
  • Standards and infrastructures of e-Learning environment
  • Student engagement in online, mobile, blended, and augmented learning
  • New and innovative pedagogies, instructional models and frameworks related to e-Learning
  • Virtual and Augmented Learning Environments in all sectors: design, development, and implementation

Read more on Call: EAI Transactions on E-Learning…

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Telepresence robots attempt to move back into the spotlight

[This story from Robotics Business Review provides a status report on the challenges and potential of the telepresence robot market. See the original for several more pictures, links to 10 leading telepresence robot companies, and to sign up for the RBR Newsletter. –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Ava Robotics]

Telepresence Robots Attempt to Move Back Into the Spotlight

High costs, end user difficulties, and poor audio/video have hampered the growth of telepresence robotics. Can new models and applications help grow the market beyond niche uses?

June 13, 2018
Keith Shaw

The public’s first exposure to telepresence robots likely came during a 2010 episode of The Big Bang Theory, when character Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) drives a robot to avoid catching germs from his friends and colleagues. The punchline was that Cooper was inside his bedroom one room away, not across the country like most users would be.

This should have been a watershed moment for the telepresence market – showing a mainstream audience the benefits of a mobile robot that could attend meetings in place of a worker being physically present. Almost eight years later, many people are still waiting to see more telepresence robots in their offices or homes.

Compared with robotics suppliers to the manufacturing, supply chain, and self-driving vehicles markets, telepresence robot companies have flown under the radar. Challenges including high costs, employee training, and public acceptance have slowed the market from growing to its potential, analysts said.

Waiting for the killer app

“The market seems to be in search of the right ‘killer application’ to bring the technology into mass adoption,” said Lian Jye Su, principal analyst at ABI Research. “There are certainly a lot more markets that are left untapped.”

The initial average cost for a mobile telepresence robot is between $8,000 and $10,000. In addition, vendors have had “difficulties trying to carve out a good value proposition for their products,” contributing to a slow-moving market, he said.

However, Su said the industry will slowly gain traction thanks to declining prices for parts and better messaging from vendors.

“The launch of BeamPro 2 by Suitable Technologies this year is an encouraging sign for the industry as a whole, as it signifies there is market acceptance for mobile telepresence robots targeted at the enterprise,” he explained. “We are also seeing more vertical focus messaging and branding from companies like OhmniLabs targeting the elderly care market and Blue Frog Robotics in the smart home market.”

ABI Research classifies telepresence robots as a subset of the global telepresence market. It has forecast growth from about 22,000 this year to about 50,000 units by 2023.

A 2017 report by market research firm Technavio predicted a 38% growth rate by 2021 for telepresence robots worldwide.

Su said companies that utilize a robots-as-a-service (RaaS) model will help lower the barrier to entry for many firms looking to implement telepresence robots.

Autonomy adds to ease of use Read more on Telepresence robots attempt to move back into the spotlight…

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