ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: February 2019

Live action View-Master movie in the works

[According to The Hollywood Reporter, a classic presence-evoking technology is set to be the basis of a new live action film (!).  –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Fisher-Price via Getty Images]

View-Master Movie In the Works at MGM and Mattel Films (Exclusive)

The deal signifies the latest toy marked for development as part of Mattel’s new push into screen entertainment.

February 27, 2019
By Borys Kit

MGM and Mattel are partnering up to develop a live-action feature film based on the toy entertainment company’s classic View-Master toy line.

Mattel Films, the feature arm launched late last year by the El Segundo-based toymaker, and MGM will co-produce the film. Robbie Brenner, Mattel’s head of film, and Cassidy Lange, MGM’s co-president of production, will oversee development.

No writer or filmmaker is attached.

View-Master, a stereoscopic eye device, launched at 1939 New York World’s Fair, bringing 3D images of tourist attractions to the masses. It exploded in popularity in the 1950s and became a childhood staple when a licensing deal with Disney was struck. Deals for other movies and television shows soon followed. Mattel acquired the brand, which by then had expanded into audio and projection, in 1997, due to its merger with Tyco. Modern View-Masters now involve smartphone tech as well as VR.

“Since the 1940s, View-Master has inspired wonder and joy in children of all ages, creating huge opportunities for storytelling,” said Brenner in a statement. “MGM Pictures has tremendous expertise and a proven track record in capturing audiences’ imagination through film, and we’re proud to be partnering with them to bring another Mattel franchise to theaters. This marks another important milestone as we transform Mattel into an IP-driven, high-performing toy company.”

Stated Jonathan Glickman, MGM’s motion picture group president: “View-Master was the first device that allowed families all over the world to escape their reality and take them places they never thought they could go. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Mattel to create a family adventure integrating the old school turn and click stereotypic device with the modern world of virtual reality.” Read more on Live action View-Master movie in the works…

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Presence for good: Check Your Blind Spots mobile interactive VR exhibit addressing unconscious bias

[Especially with everything going on in the political sphere today I think it’s wonderful that an organization is using presence to encourage people to recognize their unconscious biases and increase empathy and sensitivity in their interactions with others. The CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion’s Check Your Blind Spots mobile exhibit is on a 100 city tour around the U.S., making stops at campuses and workplaces. The story below from CNET is from the recent stop at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show); a story from the Wake Forest University stop is available in the Old Gold & Black student paper; and for much more information (including a video and many photos) see the tour’s website. –Matthew]

Read more on Presence for good: Check Your Blind Spots mobile interactive VR exhibit addressing unconscious bias…

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Call: IEEE Games Entertainment and Media (GEM) 2019

Call for Papers / Projects / Artworks / Performances

IEEE Games Entertainment and Media (GEM) 2019
June 18-22, 2019
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Extended deadline: March 10, 2019

Continuing the grand tradition & broadening the scope of the IEEE International Games Innovation Conference (IGIC, 2009 – 2013), IEEE Games Entertainment & Media (GEM, 2014 – 2016), and last year’s event held at the National University of Ireland Galway, we are excited to announce the 2019 IEEE GEM conference will be hosted at the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media, at Yale University. This year’s conference will include a new platform for the exhibition of performances and experiences that utilize the emerging fields of Motion Capture, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality with a particular emphasis on pedagogy in these areas.

IEEE Games Entertainment and Media 2019 is continuing to accept papers, projects, and artworks. Submissions can take the form of Full Papers for most tracks, Abstracts for those in the medical field, and Projects for exhibition proposals. Our goal is to make this a totally immersive conference, with demos and experiences available throughout the venue as well as those included in a curated exhibition. We will have a non-juried track for people with accepted papers to submit examples of their work to be viewable and/or playable in the space, with the hope that everything you hear about during a session is also something that you will also get to see or do.

GEM encompasses all aspects of interactive digital media ranging from game design, theoretical advances in algorithmic and mathematical techniques, new enabling technologies, advanced consumer electronics systems, and novel sensing technologies such as motion capture. Our goal is also to consider the social, political, cultural, and philosophical impacts of applying these technologies. GEM is for scientists, engineers, artists, psychologists, sociologists, designers, makers, mathematicians, creatives, programmers and game researchers of all disciplines, united in their interest and enthusiasm for exploring digital games, interactive entertainment, immersive experiences, emerging media, and the significant uses and impacts these technologies have on our lives.

SUBMISSION TRACKS: Read more on Call: IEEE Games Entertainment and Media (GEM) 2019…

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Virtual staging to sell homes is on the rise, raising ethical questions

[Instead of “staging” an empty home with actual furnishings to make it more appealing to potential buyers, why not just alter photos of the empty spaces to create the illusion of a furnished home? The Houston Chronicle reports that the trend is on the rise, but also raising interesting ethical issues regarding its potential for deception. See the original story for five more images. If it’s not already widespread, I assume the next evolution of virtual staging will involve interactive photo-realistic versions of the staged spaces experienced via VR and AR. –Matthew]

[Image: Emily Walling, a TK Images virtual stager and client relations manager, explains how she makes decisions to successfully use digital techniques to virtually furnish a property, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Houston. CREDIT: Marie D. De Jesús, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer.]

Picture yourself here: Virtual staging on the rise

R.A. Schuetz
February 22, 2019

Emily Walling eyed an empty West Houston home that was soon to hit the market.

Then, with the click of a mouse, she dropped a table and six wooden chairs into the dining room. Another click, and up popped a China cabinet, its shelves lined with martini glasses and dishware. Later, she could edit the cabinet so it appeared to be stained the same color as the table.

Virtual staging — the practice of populating images of real homes with digital furnishings — is on the rise. The number of Houston-area listings on Redfin disclosing that the house had been virtually staged rose to nearly 200 last year from just one in 2013. And at TK Images, the real estate photography company where Walling works as a photo editor, demand for virtual staging services more than doubled between 2017 and 2018, with the company processing more than 700 photographs of empty rooms last year.

The result can be astonishingly realistic and achieved at a fraction of the cost and time associated with a traditional stager. While traditional staging companies charge homeowners $500 to $600 per month per room, according to the National Association of Realtors, virtual staging companies such as TK Images charge $65 a photo. Gone is the need for sellers or agents to schedule times to let movers bring in temporary furniture; gone is the need for stagers to keep warehouses filled with couches, lamps and artwork.

Demand is so high at TK Images that the company employs three people who start their day prepping photos at 2 a.m., uploading them to the photo management system and adding notes such as “client wants car next door cropped out,” so its seven photo editors can go straight to work when they arrive at 9 a.m.

The company uses software that has an extensive library of furniture options — from couches and rugs to televisions and lighting — that may feel familiar to anyone who has played the life simulation video game The Sims.

“Which is why I like it,” Walling said. “The possibilities are endless.” Read more on Virtual staging to sell homes is on the rise, raising ethical questions…

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Call: Doctoral Workshop in Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality spectrum at iLRN 2019

Call for Participation

W1. Doctoral Workshop in Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality spectrum
An iLRN 2019 Doctoral Workshop
At the 5th Annual International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN2019)
London, 24th of June 2019

Deadline for 4 pages paper submission: 1st of March (extended)

This iLRN 2019 Doctoral Workshop (is part of the 5th Annual International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN2019) and provides a platform for doctoral students undertaking research on various aspects of immersive learning, innovation in technology (Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality spectrum) to assist education and emerging theoretical models to assist technology driven forms of education. The workshop offers doctoral students an opportunity to:

  • share and develop their research ideas in a supportive environment;
  • obtain feedback from mentors who are senior academics and established researchers;
  • explore issues related to academic and research careers; and
  • build relationships within the broader academic community from around the world.

The Doctoral Workshop integrates the “publication retreat” which offers doctoral students the opportunity to meet reviewers and journal editors and gain mentorship on devising the most effective strategy for writing and submitting papers to top journal titles.


The Doctoral Workshop invites all interested doctoral candidates to submit their research proposals for review and feedback. The research proposals should be a maximum length of 4 A4 sized-pages and should typically include the following structure:

  • Problem statement/definition
  • Brief literature review
  • Conceptual development
  • Proposed methodology
  • Outcome/Anticipated results

Read more on Call: Doctoral Workshop in Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality spectrum at iLRN 2019…

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Cornell study probes effect of virtual reality on learning

[Our colleague Andrea Stevenson Won is one of the authors of a new study on the potential roles of VR in learning, as described in this story from the Cornell Chronicle (where the original version includes an additional picture). –Matthew]

[Image: Jack Madden, doctoral candidate in the field of astronomy, watches as Andrea Stevenson Won, assistant professor of communication and director of the Virtual Embodiment Lab, uses a virtual reality simulator.]

Study probes effect of virtual reality on learning

By Linda B. Glaser
February 5, 2019

Picture yourself in a virtual reality simulator, atop the spinning Earth, the moon and all its phases just beyond, the stars surrounding you in glorious 3D. In this simulation, you have no body; there’s nothing between you and the universe but light saber-like controls shining in front of you – and a set of quiz questions.

The simulation, “Learning Moon Phases in Virtual Reality,” is part of a multi-phase research study to determine whether the compelling, immersive nature of virtual reality (VR) provides a better learning outcome than conventional hands-on activities. The study – which found no significant difference among hands-on, computer simulation or VR learning – is one of the first to look at the impacts of VR on learning.

“We’ve seen a lot of technology fads in education,” said senior author Natasha Holmes, the Ann S. Bowers Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, in physics. “And while technology can be very powerful in the classroom, as a discipline-based education researcher, it’s my job to do the controlled studies with real students to understand how, when and why these tools impact students.”

“It’s important to understand how the novelty of the technology affects how people use it,” said co-author Andrea Stevenson Won, assistant professor of communication and director of the Virtual Embodiment Lab. “Can the enthusiasm people feel for VR be turned into learning gains?” Read more on Cornell study probes effect of virtual reality on learning…

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Call: CONTEXT 2019 – 11th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context

Call for Papers

11th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context
8-11 September 2019
Trento, Italy

First submission deadline: 15 April 2019

The CONTEXT conference series has brought together researchers and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines and industries to present their work related to issues of context, contextual reasoning and context-awareness to discuss commonalities and diversities in the different disciplinary approaches. It is unique in focusing on context as a subject of study in its own right, and it has become one of the top venues for context-related research.

CONTEXT 2019 is the 11th conference in the series and takes place in the wonderful region of Trento, where 20 years ago the international conference was held after the pioneering launch event in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1997. As in the tradition of the series, submissions are invited from a wide range of disciplines, including artificial intelligence, computer science, context-aware applications, ubiquitous computing, cognitive science and psychology, social and organizational sciences, linguistics, philosophy, and various application areas, including (but not limited to) finance, medicine & healthcare, virtual and augmented reality, food, sport, business intelligence, big data analytics, education & e-learning, law. All accepted papers must be accessible also to non-specialists, for example, by providing accessible discussions of the disciplinary prerequisites to allow those outside the discipline to understand the work.

Papers of broad interdisciplinary interest will be presented in plenary sessions; all other papers will be presented in disciplinary sessions. A short paper describing each poster will appear in the conference proceedings, and some of the participants of the doctoral consortium will be invited to present a poster. Panels will bring together distinguished researchers in various fields to discuss interdisciplinary issues in modeling and using context. Best Paper and other awards, to be highlighted in the proceedings, will be conferred at the closing ceremony.

For CONTEXT-2019, we warmly invite two special categories of papers:

Papers which offer a deep retrospective view
of how context had an impact
in scientific and technological research
and applications since CONTEXT-99.

Papers which offer a game-changing vision
of how context can lead to disruptive innovation
in the next 20 years (“let’s meet again in 2039”). Read more on Call: CONTEXT 2019 – 11th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context…

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Evolving presence tech: The HoloLens 2 and beyond

[CNET has comprehensive coverage of Microsoft’s new Hololens 2 and where it fits in the evolution of technology that creates mixed reality presence illusions; the overview story below includes links to the other coverage along with 3 extended videos and several more images. –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: James Martin/CNET]

HoloLens 2 announced for $3,500, available to preorder now, ships later this year

Here’s everything you need to know about Microsoft’s next-generation mixed reality headsets.

By Ian Sherr, Scott Stein
February 25, 2019

Comfort, better visuals, easier to use with your hands. That’s the takeaway from HoloLens 2, Microsoft’s follow-up to the Space Age goggles it announced four years ago. The technology behind the $3,500 HoloLens 2 device, which Microsoft calls “mixed reality,” overlays computer images on the real world. Imagine arrows directing you down the street as you walk, or repair instructions floating over a machine as you fix it. That’s MR’s promise, Microsoft says.

The company was the pioneer in augmented reality worlds when the tech giant debuted its first headset, in 2015, charging companies $5,000 apiece for the gadget. Since then rival devices, such as the $2,295 Magic Leap, have come on the scene.

At prices like that, MR headsets are far more expensive than the competing VR technology currently on the market. Facebook’s Oculus Rift, for example, is $349, HTC’s Vive is $499 and Sony’s PlayStation VR is $299. You have to buy a computer or PlayStation 4 console to power these VR devices, but even then their prices are at least half what Microsoft or Magic Leap are asking.

That hasn’t deterred Microsoft from designing an improved headset as part of its push into the now far busier AR universe. The company says HoloLens still isn’t ready for you and me to use at home though. Instead, Microsoft is focused on companies and the military (though that’s stirred dissent in the Redmond ranks.)

Aside from that caveat, Microsoft has made some welcome improvements to the device, which goes on preorder Sunday and will be shipping later this year.

“Computing is embedded in our world, in every place in every way,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said while unveiling the device at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. “Computing is in everything from connected cars to connected refrigerators, smart surgical tools, and even smart coffee machines.”

He said the result is that the approach to how companies like Microsoft approach the technology they make. “It’s no longer about being device first, it’s about putting the human first, and it includes all the devices in their lives.”

“We don’t have to just imagine it,” he added. “This future is here.”

CNET traveled to Redmond, Washington, to see that future he was talking about abd talk with Microsoft executives and designers, including Technical Fellow Alex Kipman, about HoloLens 2.

In HoloLens 2 isn’t meant for you. But HoloLens 3 might be, we look at where HoloLens fits in the world, and why some techies think mixed reality technology will upend the way we use computers.

“The goal is these things transform humans,” said Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s technical fellow who leads the HoloLens project. He describes it as giving people superpowers. “This is a concept that’s been in our dreams.”

In HoloLens 2: Practical Magic, we share what it’s like to use HoloLens 2, its key features and where Microsoft is going next in AR … and why it’s aiming at businesses, and not the average person yet. Take a dive into what we experienced.

We also got to check out Microsoft’s lab devoted to building products that comfortably work for 95 percent of people, regardless of their height or size. This is where Microsoft made the HoloLens 2 fit more comfortably than its predecessor.

In HoloLens 2: why it’s really all about the cloud, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley explains Microsoft’s newest apps and services.

Here’s what you need to know about what Microsoft is announcing in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2019. Read more on Evolving presence tech: The HoloLens 2 and beyond…

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Call: 25th ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST 2019)

Call for Papers, Abstracts, Demos, and Posters

VRST 2019: 25th Annual ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology
Sydney, Australia
12 November to 15 November 2019

Submission deadlines:
Papers and abstracts: 19 July 2019
Posters and Demos: 15 August 2019

Dear Colleagues

Western Sydney University invites you to submit papers, abstracts, demos, and posters for the 25th Annual ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST 2019).

VRST 2019 is the premier international symposium for the presentation of new research results, systems, and techniques among researchers and developers concerned with Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality software and technology.

For the 25th silver anniversary of the conference, this year VRST 2019 will be hosted by Western Sydney University in Sydney, Australia, from 12 November to 15 November 2019. VRST 2019 is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), SIGCHI, and SIGGRAPH.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality / Mixed Reality (XR) technology and devices
  • Advanced display technologies and immersive projection technologies
  • Low-latency and high-performance XR
  • Multi-user and distributed XR
  • XR software infrastructures
  • XR authoring systems
  • Human interaction and collaborative techniques for XR
  • Input devices for XR
  • Tracking and sensing
  • Multisensory and multimodal systems for XR
  • Brain-computer interfaces
  • Haptics, smell and taste
  • Audio and music processing, and/or sound synthesis for XR
  • Computer vision and computer graphics techniques for XR
  • Immersive simulations in XR and Immersive analytics
  • Modelling and simulation
  • Real-time physics-based modelling
  • Real-time and physically based rendering
  • Avatars and virtual humans in XR
  • Tele-operation and telepresence
  • Performance testing & evaluation
  • Locomotion and navigation in virtual environments
  • Perception, presence, virtual embodiment, and cognition
  • Teleoperation and telepresence
  • Computer animation for XR
  • XR applications e.g. training systems, medical systems
  • XR for fabrication
  • Innovative HCI approaches in XR
  • Multi-disciplinary research projects involving innovative use of XR


All accepted papers will be published in the ACM digital library in the VRST collection.  Read more on Call: 25th ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST 2019)…

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Viral presence: ‘Pretending to fly’ challenge takes off

[Here’s an amusing story from the Daily Mail about a viral DIY presence challenge; the original version includes more examples and a 0:54 minute video, and another 0:58 minute video is available on YouTube. –Matthew]

Read more on Viral presence: ‘Pretending to fly’ challenge takes off…

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