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Monthly Archives: April 2019

Call: 7th Edition of the International Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Cognition (AIC 2019)

Call for Papers

AIC 2019 – 7th Edition of the International Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Cognition
Manchester, UK
September 10-11 2019
http://di.unito.it/AIC2019

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AIC_Workshop hashtag: #aic2019ws

Paper submission deadline: May 20, 2019

MOTIVATION

The research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been based, from a historical standpoint, on a strong collaboration with Cognitive Science. This collaboration has produced – along the years – mutual benefits. In AI this partnership has driven to the realization of intelligent systems based on plausible models of human cognition.

In turn, in cognitive science, this partnership allowed the development of cognitive models and architectures providing greater understanding of human thinking.

In recent years, after a period of partial fragmentation of the research directions, the area of cognitively inspired artificial systems is progressively attracting a renewed attention both from academia and industry and the awareness about the need for additional research in this interdisciplinary field is gaining widespread acceptance.

AIC 2019 is the 7th appointment of the workshop series AIC (http://dblp.uni-trier.de/db/conf/aic/index), started in 2013 and stemming from the need of creating an international scientific forum for the discussion and the presentation of the theoretical and applied research developments in the field of cognitively inspired Artificial Intelligence.

SPECIAL-TRACK: AIC 2019 particularly welcome papers related to the problems concerning the EMBODIMENT, and its role in the study of “intelligence” and “autonomy”, in cognitively-inspired systems (natural and artificial).

As for the previous editions, the AIC 2019 workshop aims at putting together researchers coming from different domains (e.g., artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, engineering, philosophy, social sciences, etc.) working on the interdisciplinary field of cognitively inspired artificial systems.

Both papers spotlighting theoretical issues and experimental research in the field are welcome. We also particularly welcome papers raising challenging questions, innovative ideas and out of the box thinking and which, as a consequence, can help to promote interesting discussions at the workshop.

TOPICS

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Knowledge Representation and Cognition (e.g. Neural Networks models, Ontologies and representation of common sense etc.)
  • Cognitive Architectures (e.g. SOAR, ACT-R) and Cognitive modelling for Artificial Systems
  • I.C.A. (Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures) and systems
  • Cognitive Robotics
  • Human-Robot Interaction
  • Artificial Cognitive Systems design
  • Evaluation of cognitively driven AI systems compared with other AI approaches
  • Cognition and Semantic Web
  • Methodological open questions on AI and Cognition
  • Automated reasoning: deductive, probabilistic, diagnostic, causal and analogical inference
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Historical and theoretical relation among Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence
  • Knowledge discovery and acquisition
  • Modelling of human learning and knowledge acquisition in complex domains
  • Computational Linguistics, Natural Language Processing & Understanding
  • Logic and Reasoning
  • Evolutionary Computation
  • Cognitively inspired Machine Learning
  • Computational Theories of Learning
  • Computational Models of Narrative for Artificial Systems (Visuo-Auditory Narrativity, Perception)
  • Cognition and Moving Image
  • Computational Creativity
  • Decision Support Systems

Read more on Call: 7th Edition of the International Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Cognition (AIC 2019)…

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The world’s first Virtual Reality bumper cars

[This press release from Qualisys describes what looks like a clever use of presence to enhance a traditional amusement park attraction; follow the link below for pictures and videos, and there are more videos on YouTube here and here. –Matthew]

Qualisys and HolodeckVR join forces to produce the world’s first Virtual Reality bumper cars

The “Steampunk VR Scooter” attraction at Erlebnispark Schloss Thurn in Germany gives visitors a unique, futuristic VR experience with all the interactive fun of traditional fairground bumper cars

April 29, 2019

Gothenburg, 29 April 2019 —Qualisys, the leading provider of precision motion capture technology and 3D tracking systems has teamed up with VR experts HolodeckVR to develop the world’s first Virtual Reality bumper cars attraction, that was unveiled at the Erlebnispark Schloss Thurn theme park in Nuremberg, Germany on April 13th.

The “Steampunk VR Scooter” will take visitors into a Wild West style arena where they will compete against each other riding retro-futuristic steam engines.

Qualisys has delivered a multi-camera Miqus mocap system for the vehicles, involving the low latency tracking of 80 targets with hundreds of markers in the volume.

The company’s partnership with HolodeckVR has solved a long-standing issue around how best to introduce mocap technology into VR attractions. The quality of Qualisys tracking systems, along with its unique “daisy-chain” camera set-up, means many cameras can be connected easily despite the complex and demanding environment of a large-scale VR experience.

HolodeckVR has developed Steampunk VR Scooter alongside German Virtual Reality ride specialists VR Coaster, and together they have taken interactive Virtual Reality to a totally new level. Steampunk is more exciting and more immersive than any driving simulator or video games arcade. The attraction at Erlebnispark Schloss Thurn will make use of all features that VR has to offer: The perceived speed of the vehicles is much faster than real bumper cars, the arena is much bigger and it will lead the drivers past steep cliffs and giant abysses.

Guests will not only compete with each other, but also against giant robotic enemies that will confront the drivers. These can be defeated with teamwork and by taking advantage of the many extras and upgrades that can be picked up by players throughout the game. Read more on The world’s first Virtual Reality bumper cars…

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Call: Audio Mostly 2019: A Journey in Sound

Call for Papers

Audio Mostly 2019: A Journey in Sound
18-20 September 2019
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, UK
https://audiomostly.com/2019

Submission Deadline: 24th May 2019

The Audio Mostly (www.audiomostly.com) conference series is interested in sound Interaction Design & Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in general. Audio Mostly will take place from the 18th to 20th of September 2019 at the University of Nottingham in the city of Nottingham in the UK. The conference provides a space to reflect on the role of sound/music in our lives and how to understand, develop and design systems which relate to sound and music. The special theme for the conference this year is ‘A Journey in Sound’. This year the theme of the conference is open to interpretation, but people might think about the following, in relation to the theme:

  • Sonic aspects of digital stories, documentaries and archives
  • The soundtrack to our lives. Archiving and sharing sound
  • The emotional potential of a sound, how might this be used to support interaction
  • The different uses of sound and music across different settings
  • The re-use of recollections and memories by composers and sound designers
  • The development of musical tools that can let us express our experiences over time
  • Socio-technical uses of AI create highly personalized soundtracks that respond to one’s context
  • Adaptive sound and music use in journeys, time and the creative use of data

We encourage original regular papers (oral/poster presentation) addressing the conference theme or other topics from the list provided below. We welcome multidisciplinary approaches involving fields such as music informatics, information and communication technologies, sound design, music performance, visualisation, composition, perception/cognition and aesthetics.

  • Accessibility
  • Aesthetics
  • Affective computing applied to sound/music
  • AI, HCI and Music
  • Acoustics and Psychoacoustics
  • Auditory display and sonification
  • Augmented and virtual reality with or for sound and music
  • Computational musicology
  • Critical approaches to interaction, design and sound
  • Digital augmentation (e.g. musical instruments, stage, studio, audiences, performers, objects)
  • Digital music libraries
  • Ethnographic studies

For more information and other topics please see:
https://audiomostly.com/2019/call/cfp/

The Audio Mostly 2019 proceedings will be published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) (awaiting approval) and made available through their digital library. Regular papers, posters and demos/installations will be double-blind peer reviewed. It is envisaged that there will be a special issue of a journal relating to the conference, as with previous years. Read more on Call: Audio Mostly 2019: A Journey in Sound…

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Director of new animated Lion King film used VR and presence to film “inside” sets

[This short story from IndieWire describes a clever use of presence-evoking VR in the process of creating the new animated film version of The Lion King. See the Entertainment Weekly story for more details and images, and a 2015 post in ISPR Presence News about the use of VR for an earlier version of The Lion King. –Matthew]

Read more on Director of new animated Lion King film used VR and presence to film “inside” sets…

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Call: Characters and Figurines – Ropecon 2019 Academic Track

Call for Papers

Characters and Figurines – Ropecon 2019 Academic Track
July 26, 2019
Helsinki, Finland
https://2019.ropecon.fi/eng/program/academic-program/

Important dates:
Abstract deadline: May 05, 2019
Notification of acceptance: May 19, 2019
Full Paper deadline: July 15 2019

Throughout the history characters and figurines have had diverse roles in playful practices from rituals to role-playing games, and from dollhouses to Warhammer 40,000. In contemporary play culture tabletop game miniatures offer visual and tangible pleasure while acting also as objects of collection and enabling other hobby practices like painting and sculpting. In role-playing games characters provide value as tools for self-representation and instruments for advancing the story, amongst other things.

Recent technological developments and the ludification of culture have made characters and figurines even more central in play culture. Social capital is accumulated by sharing pictures and videos of figurines like Blythe dolls and miniature collections, through services like Instagram and YouTube. This form of social photo play also allows adults to play with toys with less fear of social stigma. Game characters like Angry Birds, Lara Croft and Beholder have become iconic pop-culture figures with their own product brands, including but not limited to, plush toys, action figures and board games. Indeed, transmediality allows novel uses for popular characters, and nostalgic feelings, which feed the popularity of phenomena like Pokémon Go.

The topic of the seminar, “characters and figurines”, ties tightly into the Ropecon 2019 theme, mythology, as characters are central elements in mythologies, while figurines are used to represent various mythological creatures in games, religion and other activities.

We invite you to present on topics related to characters and figurines. The list of possible topics includes but is not limited to:

  • Miniature war games and miniatures in board games
  • Tangibility / visuality / aesthetics of game figurines
  • Sculpting, painting, modding, and playing with figurines
  • Collecting action figures and dolls
  • Roles, characters, personae, avatars, pawns, and cursors
  • Player-character relations
  • Representation in role-playing characters
  • Characters in transmedia
  • Role-playing or larp characters: creation, enactment, development, leveling up
  • Characters and mythology in games

Characters and Figurines is the 2nd annual Ropecon academic seminar, organized as collaboration between Ropecon ry and the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (2018-2025). The emphasis of the event is on multiplayer games that players engage in while being physically co-located as that is also the focus of Ropecon. Ropecon is a large, independent, convention devoted to role-playing games, larps, board games, miniature wargames, collectible card games, cosplay, and the like. The convention has been running annually since 1994.

The seminar focus is on working papers, and the presentations should encourage discussion. We want to encourage peer-to-peer discussion to refine and develop the papers further. Every paper will be presented for 10 minutes and discussed for 20 minutes. The sessions will be open for all Academic Ropecon ticket holders, but the presentations should be drafted with an academic audience in mind. We warmly welcome submissions from younger scholars and PhD candidates, as well as from more established researchers. The seminar is in discussion with a journal so that the best papers would be invited to be further developed for publication in a special journal issue.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Read more on Call: Characters and Figurines – Ropecon 2019 Academic Track…

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“Perceived interconnectedness” in “gentle” Twitch communities

[Horton and Wohl (1956) explained how radio and TV presenters evoke parasocial interaction and relationships; this story from Gizmodo describes one way these forms of presence have evolved in the digital age. See the original version of the story for three more images. –Matthew]

[Image: Screenshot of storyteller Mars on Twitch]

The Gentle Side of Twitch

Nicole Carpenter
April 23, 2019

“Hi! I see you, but I’m focused on the reading right now. I can chat during the next break!” This message popped up on the stream from Ryan Blake Hall, better known as Storyteller Mars on Twitch.

He was busy reading from Henry Wysham Lanier’s A Book of Giants: Tales of Very Tall Men of Myth, Legend, History, and Science (published in 1922). Sitting in front of decoratively open books and teacups, he even did character voices—gruff, booming voices for the giants, a calm voice for narration. A few viewers chatted amongst themselves during Hall’s broadcast. Hall loves talking with his small, but growing community (his 242 followers, with about 20 tuning in on each stream), but he won’t interact with them until a break, when the chapter is over.

“There was this lovely couple when I was reading Treasure Island back in November,” Hall told Gizmodo. “They would do their nightly ritual of climbing into bed, turning off all the lights, and put me on [the TV] and listen to me read until they fall asleep. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is 157 percent worth my time and effort. Knowing that even if it’s one person who I’m helping deal with life better, just get through whatever difficulties they’re having, feels like I’m giving back to the world all the kindness and generosity I’ve been given in my life so far.”

Twitch is known primarily as a video game live-streaming site, where users broadcast a number of different video game streams: “Let’s Play”–style broadcasts that see a game through to completion, esports players streaming their practice, and later, tournaments and leagues showcasing official, competitive play. Most often, the streams with the most viewers are fast-paced, exciting, and, often, over-the-top. League of Legends, Fortnite, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are typically leading in viewership numbers for that reason. (Twitch users watched “tens of millions of hours of Fortnite on Twitch” in 2018, Kotaku reported last year. This month, the game brought in an average of 140,740 viewers, with more than 10,000 live channels broadcasting at any given time, according to Twitch Metrics.)

But there’s a quieter side of Twitch, with much less stimulation and shouting. There is joy and amusement to be found in the shrieks of loud, gregarious streamers, but an emerging sector of the platform—“Twitch for introverts,” as Hall called it—is offering up a different, more relaxed experience. These quieter places on Twitch are more evocative of a slower form of entertainment, not unlike Norway’s slow TV, which broadcasts long train rides or a 12-hour knitting marathon, and the holiday tradition of watching a yule log burn. Read more on “Perceived interconnectedness” in “gentle” Twitch communities…

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Call: Contributions to book “Love and Affection in Games: A Design Primer”

Call for Submissions

Love and Affection in Games: A Design Primer
http://book.affectiongames.com/

Extended abstract deadline: April 30th, 2019

Authors are invited to submit contributions for an edited volume on love and affection in games. This volume will be published by Taylor and Francis press in 2020 and edited by Lindsay Grace at the University of Miami School of Communication.

Read more on Call: Contributions to book “Love and Affection in Games: A Design Primer”…

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Using VR to help children with autism deal with the world around them

[This story from Richard van Hooijdonk is a status report on the uses of presence-evoking technology to improve the lives of children with autism. See the original version for several (different) images and a video; KHQA has a 1:34 minute video report about the Department of Education project; and for more context see an October 2018 “deep dive” story from Spectrum. –Matthew]

[Image: From Freethink’s story “Using Virtual Reality to Help Kids with Autism,” which includes a 7:25 minute video.]

Using VR to help children with autism deal with the world around them

March 8, 2019

  • The US Department of Education aims to use VR to help students with autism develop social skills
  • The Blue Room helps children with autism overcome their fears and phobias
  • Floreo is a VR app that teaches individuals with autism social and communication skills
  • Studies indicate that VR tools can have a positive impact on individuals with autism
  • Challenges and criticism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, learns, and processes sensory information. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 160 children worldwide has ASD. These figures tend to be higher in countries with increased awareness, better diagnostic tools, and improved reporting. In the United States, for example, 1 in 59 school-age children have ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, due to many variations within ASD, developing effective treatments has proven difficult and very expensive. The annual costs of caring for children with ASD are estimated to be between $4.5-5 billion in the United Kingdom and $61-66 billion in the United States.

In recent years, VR has emerged as an increasingly useful tool to help children with autism improve their communication and social skills and better connect with their family, friends, and the world around them. VR technology enables you to create learning environments perfectly tailored to the needs of each individual. It allows you to control the virtual environment or input stimuli and show only what the individual can handle. That way, you can offer highly personalised treatment, regardless of the symptoms displayed by the patient. Another advantage of virtual worlds is that they decrease the complexity of social interactions, providing autistic children with a less hazardous and more forgiving environment.

The US Department of Education aims to use VR to help students with autism develop social skills

The United States Department of Education’s recently announced the launch of a new, $2.5 million program that will attempt to use virtual reality technology to help students with high-functioning autism and learning disabilities to develop social skills. Developed by researchers at the University of Kansas’ Center for Research on Learning and Department of Special Education, the VOISS (Virtual Reality Opportunities to Implement Social Skills) program will be implemented in at least 17 schools across the Midwest, offering students the opportunity to interact with avatars in a variety of settings, including virtual school hallways, classrooms, locker rooms, lunch rooms, and buses.

“Once the user puts on the VR HMD [head-mounted display], [they] will be able to walk around the various environments exploring different situations,” says Sean Smith, a professor of special education and co-principal investigator of the project. “The user will be able to walk up and interact with computer-driven avatars. This interaction will allow the user to understand consequences or positive or negative interactions. For instance, if the user is constantly looking down, the avatars may cut the conversation short and walk away. However, if the user makes eye contact, then the avatar will respond positively by smiling and conversing with the user.”

The initial results have been rather impressive. “We found that students who received the virtual reality experienced increased in their understanding of social skills,” claims Amber Rowland, an assistant research professor with the Center for Research on Learning and co-principal investigator on the project. “This increase was significantly different from students that did not have access to the virtual reality experience. We also found that students who learned from the virtual reality experience were also able to generalize their understanding to non-virtual environments. Finally, students expressed a level of understanding and presence in the virtual reality experience enhancing the learning experience and understanding of the social skill being described and in which the student interacted.”

The Blue Room helps children with autism overcome their fears and phobias Read more on Using VR to help children with autism deal with the world around them…

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Call: Chapters for “Game User Experience and Player-Centered Design”

Call for Chapters

Game User Experience and Player-Centered Design

Editor: Barbaros Bostan, Bahcesehir University, Game Design Department, Turkey.

Planned to be published by Springer

Long Abstract Submission Deadline: May 15, 2019

User Experience (UX) is a branch of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) interested in improving the quality of the interaction between the user and the product. When applied to the rapidly growing billion dollar game industry, it becomes the Game User Experience or Player Experience (PX) that focus on the relationship between the player and the game. Game User Experience, the individual and personal experience of playing games, is a complex construct composed of behavioral, psychological and physiological levels. The complexity of the concept also effects the measurement of it, which has different approaches with differing strengths and weaknesses. The lack of consistent set of methods and tools that enable the measurement of entertainment experiences is one of the main challenges the Games User Research (GUR) community faces.

Therefore, a better understanding of the player experience is crucial for game designers and researchers: (1) to identify the basic components of game user experience for different members of the industry such as graphics experts, game designers and storytellers, (2) to specify the elements that can shape the game development cycle according to players’ preferences using a player-centered design approach, (3) to identify the impact of game user experience not only on the entertainment but also on the educational value of a game (4) to explain the evolution in the nature and measurement of game user experience with the introduction of new technologies such as VR and AR, (5) and to evaluate and to validate the different techniques for measuring the game user experience.

This book will provide an introduction and overview of the rapidly evolving topic of game user experience, presenting the new perspectives employed by researchers and the industry, and highlighting the recent empirical findings that illustrate the nature of it. This book will aim: (1) to provide a snapshot on research approaches/advances in game user experience, (2) to discuss issues, solutions, challenges, and needs for a better understanding of game experience in terms of the academic domains of HCI, psychology, human factors and game studies, and (3) to report recent research findings as well as industry case studies from both social sciences and engineering perspectives.

Special topics of interest for this book are:

  • The evolution of game user experience in the new era of VR and AR
  • The impact of game user experience on the game development cycles
  • The relationship between game user experience and player enjoyment
  • The exploration of game user experience in educational games
  • Coverage of the user-centered design (UCD) principles in games

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following: Read more on Call: Chapters for “Game User Experience and Player-Centered Design”…

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Parallux’s “Cave” at Tribeca: Are collective shared experiences the future of virtual reality?

[The VR company Parallux has created a new type of shared presence experience for audiences, as reported in this story from Techradar. See the original story for more pictures, and for more information see the NYU news release and an interview in No Proscenium. The Hollywood Reporter has a rundown of the VR-AR programming at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival. –Matthew]

Are shared experiences the future of virtual reality?

By Catherine Ellis
April 23, 2019

VR is traditionally a lonely experience. After slipping on a headset, you’re typically isolated (even if you’re sitting in a group), and even multi-person experiences only let two or three people share the same world. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

From April 26 to May 4 at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, virtual reality company Parallux is premiering a new experience that 16 people can watch and enjoy together. The experience, Cave, is a tale set 12,000 years ago when stories were told around fires, harking back to the earliest days of shared storytelling.

“When people will show up at Tribeca, they’ll enter the VR arcade, and our experience cave will be in a separate room there,” explains Sebastian Herscher, CEO of Parallux. “There are going to be 16 headsets on 16 seats, set up in two rows. They’re going to walk in, be asked to sit down and relax, and be introduced to the equipment that we’re using, just as a little bit of onboarding.

“Then they’re going to put on their headset, and the moment that they put it on they are going to be transported to the world space of Cave.”

When a member of the audience looks left or right, they’ll be able to see virtual representations of the people sitting either side of them. These won’t just be placeholders, either – each avatar will follow the movements of the person it represents, turning its head in the same direction and ‘looking’ wherever he or she does.

“On top of that, every seat has a unique viewpoint, like a theater,” Herscher says. “So the person on the left side of the audience is having a very different experience and a different viewpoint than a person on the right side of the audience. They are then going to sit back watch our short, and then take off the headset and mosey on out just like a theater or a movie.” Read more on Parallux’s “Cave” at Tribeca: Are collective shared experiences the future of virtual reality?…

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