ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: December 2018

Call: Conversational User Interfaces Conference (CUI) 2019

Call for Papers

Conversational User Interfaces Conference (CUI) 2019
August 22nd-23rd 2019
Dublin, Ireland

Full paper submission deadline: March 15, 2019


Through the commercial success of intelligent personal assistant devices such as Alexa and Google Home, to the growth of the use of chatbots in commercial settings, the number of language and conversation based interactions is growing. Developing from successful workshops at both ACM CHI and ACM Mobile HCI, the CUI conference looks to bring together researchers and industry representatives interested in human centered issues in the field of speech and text based conversational and language based interfaces. The conference aims to be a leading venue to present work related to human-machine conversation, broadly defined.


CUI will be a 2 day, single track conference, held in the heart of Dublin, Ireland.

The conference welcomes cutting edge human centered contributions in the areas of, but not limited to: voice user interfaces, conversational interaction through technology, text based conversational interfaces, chatbots, speech interfaces, speech synthesis, speech recognition, dialogue management, conversational interface design insights, speech interface theory development, methods for conversational user interface development and evaluation.


Cosmin Munteanu (University of Toronto Mississauga)

SUBMISSION TRACKS Read more on Call: Conversational User Interfaces Conference (CUI) 2019…

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Snapchat virtually restores London’s Big Ben with holiday-themed, location-based AR Lens

[This story from Next Reality describes what I think is a clever idea: Using augmented reality to create presence experiences of tourist sites – in this case Big Ben – while they’re under renovation (I wish it had been in place for the 600 year old Astronomical Clock in Prague that was being restored during the PRESENCE 2018 conference and is now back in service). See the original Next Reality story for animated gifs and a 13 second video of Snapchat’s Cat Lenses (also available via YouTube), and see a 21 second video of the Big Ben AR on YouTube.

Here’s wishing all of us a safe, healthy, productive and happy 2019!


Snapchat Virtually Restores London’s Big Ben with Holiday-Themed, Location-Based AR Lens

By Tommy Palladino
December 21, 2018

The city of London is getting a holiday gift this season, but it’s not the kind you unwrap, since it’s completely delivered in augmented reality.

Snapchat has created an augmented reality version of the famed Big Ben tower clock building that enables Westminster residents and visitors to see the tower in its intended splendor, free of the current restoration coverings that hide it from full view.

Last year, renovations began on the Great Clock in the Elizabeth tower, better known as Big Ben. The famous tower remains shrouded in scaffolding and, outside of exceptions like New Year’s Eve, its trademark bell will stay muted until 2020.

However, a World Lens from Snapchat virtually peels back the scaffolding to reveal the tower as it should appear after renovations are complete, with an accurately-scaled model viewable from various angles and distances. The AR experience encases the tower in a virtual snowglobe with holiday greetings superimposed across its facade.

In addition, the experience recreates the clock’s famous chimes and bongs. And when using the front-facing camera, Snapchat’s well known facial recognition technology outfits users within the camera’s view with virtual Union Jack top hats. Read more on Snapchat virtually restores London’s Big Ben with holiday-themed, location-based AR Lens…

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Call: Deep Learning for Design – A Design Science Journal Thematic Collection

Call for Papers – Deep Learning for Design

Deep Learning for Engineering Design
A Thematic Collection in the Design Science Journal

Deadline for full submissions: 31 May 2019


Machine learning is generally concerned with the development of computational systems that can improve their performance of a task with experience (typically in the form of data). Deep learning is a subset of machine learning that seeks to improve performance and robustness of computational systems by imbuing them with the ability to construct internal representations of the data at varying degrees of abstraction. Deep neural networks are an increasingly common method within these broader categories. Over the last decade they have proven particularly useful for a variety of tasks including image recognition, sparking a variety of applications to related tasks in design. These have spanned architecture, mechanical design, product design, and game design. However, the relationship that these and other applications of deep learning have to the existing human stakeholders in design needs further exploration. In what way can deep learning augment or automate the behaviors of designers? In what way can it allow designers to better capture and respond to the needs, states, or behaviors of users and customers? How does deep learning connect to existing theoretical design frameworks?

The aim of this thematic collection is to bring together leading edge research that focuses on the intersection of design and deep learning. Design Science is an archival publication venue that has a multidisciplinary readership. Since it is an online journal, papers in a Thematic Collection are published immediately upon acceptance. In keeping with open access principles, contributors are encouraged to make relevant software for their submission publicly accessible (e.g., as a GitHub repository or a Journal of Open-Source Software submission).

The deadline for full submissions is 31 May 2019.


Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following related to deep learning:

  • Automating evaluation, analysis of potential solutions
  • Enabling robust yet efficient simulations of complex systems
  • Creating rich virtual worlds
  • Automating the synthesis of novel solution concepts
  • Facilitating intelligent interactive systems via machine learning constructs
  • Engaging in human/machine co-creative design
  • Leveraging deep learning for improved agent-based systems
  • Generating unique design representations afforded by deep learning

Read more on Call: Deep Learning for Design – A Design Science Journal Thematic Collection…

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Step into Claude Monet’s world with this immersive VR exploration of ‘Water Lilies’

[The new virtual reality experience described in this story from Smithsonian sounds impressive; see the original story for two other images, and the Vive website (or YouTube) for a 4:50 minute video that includes many indirect references to presence as it describes the project. –Matthew]

Step Into Claude Monet’s World With This Immersive VR Exploration of ‘Water Lilies’

New VR experience whisks participants from Paris museum to Impressionist’s Giverny garden and studio

By Meilan Solly
November 19, 2018

Visiting the Musée de l’Orangerie’s “Water Lilies” rooms—an oblong pair of galleries fitted with eight panoramic panels from Claude Monet’s seminal series—is an immersive experience in and of itself. But as Flora Eveno reports for Belgian news outlet RTBF, individuals stopping by the Paris museum can now opt to literally immerse themselves in Monet’s masterpieces through a virtual reality tour of the French Impressionist’s world. Read more on Step into Claude Monet’s world with this immersive VR exploration of ‘Water Lilies’…

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Job: Postdoc in Socially Adaptive Behaviour Support Agents at TU Delft

Postdoc position in Socially Adaptive Behaviour Support Agents
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Level: Doctorate (PhD)
Working hours: 32-40 hours weekly
Contract: until 31-12-2022
Salary: 3303 – 4166 euros monthly (full-time basis)

This vacancy is available until the position is filled, the new deadline for applications is January 6, 2019.


This position is part of the programme “Pride & Prejudice – Tackling chronic disease prevention through real-life monitoring and context-aware intervention design”, which is financially supported by the 4TU federation (see!/84378/awarding_hightech/).

Central to the Pride & Prejudice programme is the combination of monitoring in real-life through sensors (food intake, physical activity and health parameters) with the development of design interventions at different levels of the system (person, group, society), and evaluation of the (long-term) effectiveness of these combined interventions.

This position focuses on the development of a behaviour support agent that helps people to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle (e.g., eating habits and physical activities). Specifically, we investigate how we can design a conversational agent that takes into account the norms and values of both the supported person and their social environment (such as nuclear families and caregivers). For this, the agent should be able to engage into a conversation with various stakeholders to elicit their norms and values, be able to reason about them, and seek or coach towards solutions in case of a conflict. We will empirically investigate through user studies whether norm- and value-tailoring makes the lifestyle interventions more effective.

As a postdoc your tasks concern the following activities:

  • perform scientific research
  • develop research prototypes using a situated cognitive engineering approach (iterative development cycles, empirical evaluation of prototypes with its users, scenario- and claim-based analysis, and focus group reviews)
  • present results in scientific conferences
  • publish in renowned scientific journals
  • participate in activities of the research group and project team
  • limited participation in teaching activities of the research group

FACULTY | DEPARTMENT | RESEARCH GROUP Read more on Job: Postdoc in Socially Adaptive Behaviour Support Agents at TU Delft…

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Japan’s Lovot robot is designed only to create emotional attachment

[The creator of the new Lovot robot and his team have made a series of design choices likely to increase medium-as-social-actor presence, as described in this story from Bloomberg (where it includes two more pictures). Excerpts from coverage in The Verge and Quartz follow below and provide more details, and see the English version of the Lovot website for much more information. –Matthew]

This New Japanese Robot Is Designed to Hack Your Emotion

By Pavel Alpeyev
December 18, 2018

With large attentive eyes and a plush body that’s warm to the touch, a new robot developed in Japan is designed to hack human emotions.

Looking like a cross between an owl and a penguin, the Lovot is meant to live at home, where it’s only job is to roam around the house, beg you for hugs and generally act as an adorable pet that helps you unwind after a long day. It’s the brainchild of Kaname Hayashi, a former Formula One race-car designer and developer who worked on Pepper, Masayoshi Son’s attempt at creating humanoid assistants.

“This robot won’t do any of your work. In fact, it might just get in the way,” Hayashi said. “Everything about this robot is designed to create attachment.” Read more on Japan’s Lovot robot is designed only to create emotional attachment…

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Call: Advanced Techniques and Emerging Trends in Cyber-Social Computing – Special issue of Computers & Electrical Engineering

Call for Papers

Computers & Electrical Engineering
Special Issue on Advanced Techniques and Emerging Trends in Cyber-Social Computing

Paper submission deadline: December 31, 2018 (Extended)


The rapid development of Web 2.0, IoT and Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) has increasingly brought the physical, social and mental spaces intertwined together into the cyberspace. The cyber social networks have made people’s routine life and social activities seamlessly integrate together. This scenario is calling for the diversified computing paradigms and computational intelligence algorithms, to systematically model the new phenomena, behaviors, properties and practices in the cyberspace. New models, strategies, and technologies, ranging from network dynamics, cognitive informatics, and data analytics, can be developed to effectively process the heterogeneous human individual information along with the broad applications in the cyber-social computing environments. Numerous challenges to be tackled in this context include: How to efficiently manage and handle the massive available cyber social data generated from various sources? How to systematically understand and recognize behavior patterns associated with the new phenomena across social-physical world? How to make best use of cyber social networks along with the computational intelligence hidden in tremendous human associations and interconnections in cyberspace, among others.

This special issue on Advanced Techniques and Emerging Challenges in Cyber-Social Computing aims at bringing together researchers and engineers from both academia and industry to disseminate their innovations on the fundamental theories, models, and technological solutions in terms of development of intelligent applications with cyber-social analytics. Therefore, this special issue will have a great significance and profound impact on: (i) addressing original theoretical researches and practice-oriented developments in the cyber-physical-social-related field; (ii) presenting the foundational models, methodologies, and architectures, which can improve technologies to deal with emerging challenges in cyber-social computing; (iii) promoting the practical technologies to realize infrastructural frameworks, functional tools, and adaptive services regarding to cyber-enabled applications and (iv) exploring interests to seek potential collaborations, and push forward the development of cyber-social computing with other related frontiers.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • Analysis of Network Dynamics in Cyberspace
  • Knowledge Modeling and Management in Cyber-Social Networks
  • Biological Neural Network Modeling across Social-Physical World
  • Computational Learning Theory in Cyber Environment
  • Information Diffusion and Sharing across Multiple Social Cyberspaces
  • Cyber-Social Data Processing and Intelligence Mining
  • Cyber-Physical Hybrid System Design
  • Trust and Reputation in Social Cyberspace
  • User Behavior Analysis and Modeling in Social Cyberspace
  • User Influence Measure and Model in Social Cyberspace
  • Community Detection and Structural Analysis in Social Cyberspace
  • Semantic Social Network Analysis
  • Data-Driven Interdisciplinary Modeling and Analysis
  • Cyber-Enabled Learning Analytics
  • Cyber-Physical Healthcare Services
  • Privacy and Security in Social Cyberspace
  • Cyber-Empowered Sentiment Analysis and Mental Computing

SUBMISSIONS Read more on Call: Advanced Techniques and Emerging Trends in Cyber-Social Computing – Special issue of Computers & Electrical Engineering…

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2018’s political mess is a boon for VR escapism in 2019

[This opinion piece from The Next Web offers the kind of big picture perspective on presence that I find particularly interesting and important. The author makes logical if depressing predictions about how we will use and be impacted by presence-evoking technologies (she uses the term explicitly) in the year and years ahead. Note: This version is very lightly edited for typos. –Matthew]

2018’s political mess is a boon for VR escapism in 2019

By Alice Bonasio
December 25, 2018

As the late screenwriting legend William Goldman famously said; “nobody knows anything” so predictions – especially about technology – always run the risk of making people look silly in the not-so-distant-future.

That said, I’m going to go out on a limb and say in the next few years we’re going to see more people becoming “Virtual Reality Refugees.” By which I mean immersive technologies will provide increasingly attractive alternatives for those wishing to escape the dreamlike madness that has overtaken our real world.

This isn’t a completely new idea — it’s been explored in movies, literature, and tons of tech articles — but this past year has convinced me it’s not a far-off possibility, it will be our reality before we know it.

Why 2018 was the pivotal year Read more on 2018’s political mess is a boon for VR escapism in 2019…

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Jobs: 2 Doc/PostDoc positions in Social Robotics at RWTH Aachen University, Germany

PhD candidates or PostDocs

Department of Society, Technology, and Human Factors
Human Technology Center (HumTec)
RWTH Aachen University
Aachen, Germany

Application deadline: January 31, 2019

The group “Individual and Technology” at RWTH Aachen University, Germany (Prof. Dr. Astrid Rosenthal-von der Pütten; is looking for two highly motivated research assistants/associates (PhD candidates or PostDocs). The group Individual and Technology is part of the Department of Society, technology, and Human Factors and affiliated with the Human Technology Center (HumTec) at RWTH Aachen University ( Our research and teaching focuses on media psychology, human-technology interaction, artificially intelligent systems, social robotics, and media neuroscience.


  • You have (or soon will obtain) an University degree (Master or equivalent) or a Doctorate/PhD for PostDocs in psychology, computer science, HCI or cognitive science
  • You have profound knowledge in one (or ideally more) of the following areas: media psychology, human-technology interaction, social robotics, artificially intelligent systems
  • You have a strong interest in interdisciplinary research and research questions at the intersection of (media) psychology, cognitive science and computer science
  • You have experience in planning and conducting human-technology interaction studies and in statistical analysis of self-report and interaction data
  • You have programming skills or are interested and willing to familiarize yourself with programming
  • Experience with a robot platform (e.g. Nao, Pepper) is a plus, but not a requirement; also programming skills in ROS would be a plus but not a requirement
  • Excellent English skills

Moreover, you are responsible, motivated, and team-minded and have strong communicative skills


You will engage in research in the project UrbANT (funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education). Within the project the consortium develops an autonomous delivery robot.

Your tasks are:

  • Quasi-experimental observations studies in the field and analysis of spontaneous user/pedestrian behavior
  • Development of social interaction concepts for collision avoidance
  • Iterative testing of the interaction concepts in lab studies
  • Testing the final prototype in field studies
  • Organization of project workshops
  • Publication of project results in competitive Journals, presentation at international conferences

WHAT WE OFFER Read more on Jobs: 2 Doc/PostDoc positions in Social Robotics at RWTH Aachen University, Germany…

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Celebrating Christmas 2018 virtually

[Here are three short stories about how people are using technology to celebrate Christmas virtually this year. I wish you all a wonderful, restorative Christmas and holiday season, mediated by technology and otherwise! –Matthew]

[The first story, from Patch, is about a “virtual Santa sleigh ride” attraction in Chicago; for more details see ABC7 TV’s 3:37 minute news report. For coverage of other attractions see “Mindful of Amazon, malls take the Santa experience high-tech” in the Chicago Tribune.]

[Image: Source: O The Places We Go, where you can watch the 1:23 minute sleigh ride video]

Water Tower Place Debuts First in the Country Virtual Santa Sleigh Ride

Claire Vartabedian (community member)
November 15, 2018

This winter, Santa is coming to town in style with a fun seasonal adventure at one of Chicagoland’s premier shopping destinations. Water Tower Place is partnering with Portable North Pole (PNP), a web and mobile platform that specializes in creating customized Santa videos, to bring a unique virtual sleigh ride experience exclusively to Chicago. As the only U.S. location to host the iconic red sleigh from PNP, Water Tower Place is elevating the traditional visit to Santa Claus this holiday season.

Between November 16 and December 24, Chicagoans and tourists alike can experience the holiday magic of an interactive virtual ride on Santa’s sleigh, parked on the 7th floor of Water Tower Place. For $39.99, visitors can take Santa’s reindeer on a training flight with immersive technology and have a recorded video of their thrilling adventure from Chicago to the North Pole sent to their email address to be shared with loved ones. After the sleigh ride, children can greet Santa’s elves and meet with Santa to have their picture taken. In addition to their virtual sleigh video, guests will receive complimentary digital downloads of the pictures with Santa, one 5×7 print, one 4×6 print and four wallet-sized photos.

Visitors can upgrade to a premium package priced at $49.99 and continue the magic at home by creating a highly personalized video at There are eleven videos to choose from, each offering incredible scenes from Santa’s North Pole village. In the tailor-made video message, Santa will mention children by name, show photos of them in his magic big book, list real details of their life and much more to create a truly special, personal experience. Read more on Celebrating Christmas 2018 virtually…

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