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Monthly Archives: May 2019

Call: Advances in Longitudinal HCI Research: Theoretical perspectives, methods, and case studies (book chapters)

Call for book chapters – Springer Human Computer Interaction Series

Advances in Longitudinal HCI Research: Theoretical perspectives, methods, and case studies

Deadline for submission of chapter abstracts: August 1, 2019

Longitudinal studies have been traditionally seen as too cumbersome and labor-intensive to be of much use in research on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). However, recent trends in market, legislation, and the research questions we address, have highlighted the importance of studying prolonged use, while technology itself has made longitudinal research more accessible to researchers across different application domains.

This book is aimed as an educational resource for graduate students and researchers in HCI and will be published in the Springer Human-Computer Interaction Series:

We invite HCI researchers and practitioners to contribute to the following suggested (but not limited) topics:

  • the theoretical underpinnings of longitudinal HCI research: when a longitudinal study is appropriate, what research questions can be addressed and what challenges are entailed in different longitudinal research designs,
  • advances and challenges in methods of longitudinal data collection and analysis: how can we maintain participant adherence and data reliability in longitudinal studies, how to conduct efficient longitudinal studies through the large-scale deployment of technology through app stores and otherwise, how to use particular methods of data collection and analysis in longitudinal settings (e.g., Experience Sampling, Hierarchical Linear Models, Contextual Bandits)
  • reviews of the state of the art of different research topics in longitudinal HCI research
  • case studies of longitudinal research, across the full spectrum of HCI: e.g., usability and user experience, social robotics and virtual agents, information visualization, interaction design & children, social computing, personal informatics etc

SUBMITTING YOUR CHAPTER Read more on Call: Advances in Longitudinal HCI Research: Theoretical perspectives, methods, and case studies (book chapters)…

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What the Oculus Quest can teach us about the future of mixed reality

[This story from Variety suggests that the guardian system in the new Oculus Quest VR headset could be a useful model for how we’ll transition between virtual and augmented real environments in the future (while noting two key challenges). The explanation begins in the 7th paragraph, and see the original story for a 2:30 minute video demonstration of the guardian system (start at 0:30). –Matthew]

What the Oculus Quest Can Teach Us About the Future of Mixed Reality

By Janko Roettgers
May 22, 2019

Facebook’s new Oculus Quest headset is a great gaming device that simplifies virtual reality (VR), doing away with the need for an expensive PC and external tracking hardware. But with its integrated tracking, the Quest can also teach us a thing or two about the future of virtual and augmented reality.

Those two areas of immersive computing have long proceeded on separate tracks. Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital objects over a view of the real world. It is especially popular on smart phones, with companies like Snapchat, Facebook, Apple and Google all shipping technologies that enable AR filters, lenses and similar effects.

Microsoft, Magic Leap and some other AR startups have been building and selling headsets that offer a glasses-like form factor, complete with AR games and enterprise applications. Both approaches unite in that they very much depend on a view of the real world, provided either through phone cameras or translucent glasses.

Virtual reality (VR), on the other hand, has been all about immersion, with dedicated headsets like the Quest as well as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive and Sony’s Playstation VR system offering users access to immersive games and stories. All these devices completely block out the real world, transporting users into virtual living rooms, space stations or even into the middle of an animated movie.

Experts have long predicted that these two paths of immersive computing will eventually converge, with one device offering both virtual and augmented reality experiences. That notion, also known as mixed reality, makes a lot of sense. After all, consumers don’t buy one phone for voice calls and one for video chats, and they don’t have two separate laptops for word processing and spreadsheets.

What that convergence will actually look like is a lot harder to fathom, especially as the device form factors are still very much evolving. Will consumers have a switch on their smart glasses that will allow them to block out the real world and transition to a VR experience? Will their futuristic mixed reality contact lenses ominously turn black whenever they ask a voice assistant to transport them to a VR world? Read more on What the Oculus Quest can teach us about the future of mixed reality…

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Call: Pretend Play and E-Cognition conference

Call for Abstracts

Pretend Play and E-Cognition
19 and 20 September 2019
University of Antwerp, Belgium

Abstract submission deadline:  31 May 2019


This conference seeks to explore if and how E-Cognition theories, which aim to understand cognition through the interplay between the brain processes, bodily capacities and environmental contexts, can improve our understanding of pretend, imaginative and creative practices.

E-Cognition refers to a young field of interdisciplinary research on embodied, embedded, enactive, extensive and ecological cognition, and includes ecological psychology, sensorimotor theory and dynamical systems theory. It assumes that cognition is shaped and structured by dynamic interactions between the brain, body, and both the physical and social environments.

The pretend play practices include playing with objects ‘as if’ they were another, role playing, make-believe play, having imaginary friends, making-up new games, creating rules in games, confabulating, storytelling, making fictional scripts, and acting.

The conference will address newest developments in philosophical theories of E-Cognition in the field of pretense and imagination, as well as latest empirical studies on pretend and creative forms of play from psychological research.


  • Thalia Goldstein – George Mason University, USA
  • Arkadiusz Gut & Monika Chylinska – Catholic University Lublin, Poland
  • Vasuvedi Reddy – University of Portsmouth, UK
  • Agnes Szokolszky – University of Szeged, Hungary
  • Martin Weichold – Regensburg University, Germany


The conference aims to bring together specialists from the fields of philosophy and psychology who are involved in the study of pretense, imagination or creativity and have a good understanding of the field of E-Cognition.

Participation is welcome from junior researchers and senior academics, who have an interest in philosophical, psychological or interdisciplinary research on:

  • pretend play practices, including playing with objects ‘as if’ they were another,
  • role playing,
  • make-believe play,
  • having imaginary friends,
  • making-up new games,
  • creating rules in games,
  • confabulating,
  • storytelling,
  • making fictional scripts,
  • acting.

Relationship between the E-Cognition and pretense, imagination and creativity, including the role of materiality, affordances, theory of mind, scripts or metaphors application of E-Cognition theories into empirical research on pretend, imaginative and creative play.


  • Which cognitive skills are needed in order to pretend play? Does pretense, imagination or creativity require representing, and if so, what form of representing?
  • What is needed in order to develop imaginative skills and creativity? How does the material and social environment affect such development?
  • What is the scope of the E-Cognition theories on our understanding of pretense, imagination and creativity?
  • Can E-Cognition explain pretend play? Can E-Cognition guide new empirical research on pretend play?

SUBMISSION DETAILS Read more on Call: Pretend Play and E-Cognition conference…

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A real pastor baptizes an anime girl in virtual reality

[Nearly all aspects of human life can be experienced via media technology, evoking varying degrees of presence; this story from Polygon describes an interesting one. The original story includes both videos; for more information see coverage in the Daily Mail. –Matthew]

Read more on A real pastor baptizes an anime girl in virtual reality…

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Call: Ethics of Digital Well-Being: A Multidisciplinary Approach (book chapters)

Call for Papers

Ethics of Digital Well-Being: A Multidisciplinary Approach
(Springer, Philosophical Studies)

Submission deadline: 9th September 2019

This edited collection is designed to explore the new opportunities and risks for human flourishing associated with the widespread adoption of digital technologies in domains such as healthcare, education and employment, media and entertainment, and social development and governance. For example, mobile apps can help us track increasingly fine-grained features of our physical health using advanced data analytics, but can also create an endless source of distraction that may impact negatively our mental health. In the same way, information and communication technologies, including virtual or augmented reality environments, connect us to communities across the globe that speak another language, but paradoxically may distance us from the people sitting right next to us. In each of these instances we observe an ethical choice about how we, as individuals, communities and society, should use the growing collection of digital technologies to protect and promote our digital well-being.

The importance of digital well-being has not gone unnoticed. In recent years, many high-profile organisations have published reports and ethical guidelines for the design and regulation of digital technologies, which place the promotion of human flourishing as a central principle in the design and development of digital technologies (e.g. British Academy and Royal Society, IEEE). However, many of these reports or frameworks recognise the inherent limitation of rigid or static guidelines for dealing with the fast-paced nature of technological development, and, therefore, emphasise the importance of ongoing debate and discussion that integrates contemporary empirical research from the cognitive and social sciences with theoretical research in ethical theory. As such, the present collection will continue and advance these debates and discussions.

This edited collection is part of a research project developed by Dr Christopher Burr and Professor Luciano Floridi, Digital Ethics Lab, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. It aims at collecting contributions from experts working on digital well-being across disciplines such as philosophy, computer science, behavioural and social sciences, STS, policy-making and design, and many more. The goal is to offer a multidisciplinary collection of essays and commentaries, which will cast a new and more comprehensive lights on the issue of well-being in digital societies.

Submission Guidelines and List of Topics Read more on Call: Ethics of Digital Well-Being: A Multidisciplinary Approach (book chapters)…

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Comcast’s free-to-the-public Universal Sphere is a cross between VR and a planetarium

[Media conglomerate Comcast has its headquarters in Philadelphia; this story from describes a new presence-evoking, free-to-the-public feature in the company’s newly opened Comcast Tower. Demand for tickets is high but some of us are already planning a field trip and I’ll add our impressions in the comments. For more information, see coverage by NBC 10 (also owned by Comcast) and the Universal Sphere website. –Matthew]

[Image: The mysterious Comcast “sphere” in the lobby of the new Comcast Technology Center is now open to the public.]

That giant sphere in Comcast’s new tower? Watch a futuristic Spielberg short film there, free.

by Bob Fernandez
May 20, 2019

In a scene from the 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the actor Richard Dreyfuss hurls garbage, dirt, bushes and bricks through his kitchen window to the horror of his wife, and then sculpts a big replica of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Dreyfuss’ character, in a hallucinatory fever, doesn’t even know — and neither did most movie-goers — what he was sculpting until later in the film about encounters between extraterrestrials and humans.

There is deja vu with that Steven Spielberg film and what looks like a big — some say creepy — golf ball on the second floor of the lobby of the new Comcast Corp. tower, across from the Vernick Coffee Bar.

Why is it there? Comcast officials wouldn’t say for months. But they revealed it last week.

The Universal Sphere is a cross between virtual reality and a planetarium, the creation of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Spielberg himself. Inside the spherical theater, Comcast shows a six- to seven-minute film about the power of ideas. It’s a futuristic and immersive experience. It’s free, but only about 25 people can watch at one time. Comcast has a web site to get a ticket at a set time.

But a word of caution: Some viewers might need a small dosage of Dramamine for the vertigo when a sailing vessel falls off the edge of the Earth, or you are blasted to Earth from outer space. There’s a showing every 15 minutes Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Comcast Technology Center at 18th and Arch Streets. Hours could be expanded to weekends.

Roberts calls the experience “like virtual reality without the glasses.” He said it may become the most iconic part of the new Comcast tower, the tallest skyscraper in Philadelphia. He is hoping for the same success as the company has had with its high-def video wall in the Comcast headquarters a block away, which was visited by about 270,000 people over the Christmas holiday [for more see a 2012 ISPR Presence News post –ML]. Read more on Comcast’s free-to-the-public Universal Sphere is a cross between VR and a planetarium…

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Call: 8th Workshop Automotive HMI: User Interface Research in the Age of New Digital Realities

Call for Papers

8th Workshop Automotive HMI: User Interface Research in the Age of New Digital Realities
Colocated with MuC
(Mensch-Computer-Interaction) 2019 (
September 8, 2019 (9AM-5PM)
Hamburg, Germany

Submission deadline: June 6, 2019

Even though many aspects of automated driving have not yet become true, many human factors issues have already been investigated. However, recent discussions revealed common misconceptions in both research and society about vehicle automation and the levels of automation. This might be due to the fact that automated driving functions are mis-named (cf. Autopilot) and that vehicles integrate functions at different automation levels (L1 lane keeping assistant, L2/L3 traffic jam assist, L4 valet parking). The user interface is one of the most critical issues in the interaction between humans and vehicles – and diverging mental models might be a major challenge here. Today’s (manual) vehicles are ill-suited for appropriate HMI testing for automated vehicles. Instead, virtual or mixed reality might be a much better playground to test new interaction concepts in an automated driving setting. In this workshop, motivated by the conference theme, we will look into the potential of new digital realities for concepts, visualizations, and experiments in the car, e.g. by replacing all the windows with displays or transferring the entire environment into a VR world. We are further interested in discussing novel forms of interaction (speech, gaze-based interaction, gestures) and information displays to support the driver/passenger.


The main goal of the workshop is to discuss challenges and opportunities in automotive user interface research, such as mental models, misuse of terms, intransparency, etc. that might hinder or support the application on a broader basis. In particular, we are highly interested in radical innovative ideas for future HMI research in virtual/mixed VR/MR reality.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • User interface concepts to foster trust and acceptance (for example, transparency displays) for the different levels of automation
  • Futuristic (virtual/mixed reality) concepts of shared control, vehicle interior, and in-vehicle non-driving-related
  • User experience design for automated vehicles
  • Personalization of vehicle behavior and interfaces
  • Approaches that support situation awareness through design

We welcome CONTRIBUTIONS from both academia and industry in either GERMAN or ENGLISH language!

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Read more on Call: 8th Workshop Automotive HMI: User Interface Research in the Age of New Digital Realities…

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Virtual Reality rooms are home design’s next big thing, and they’re hiding in plain sight

[It’s short on details, but this story from the Robb Report is the first I’ve seen about the designing and building of dedicated VR (and presence) rooms in homes. Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to the kind of events portrayed in Ray Bradbury’s classic short story The Veldt. –Matthew]

Read more on Virtual Reality rooms are home design’s next big thing, and they’re hiding in plain sight…

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Call: Mediated Conversation minitrack of Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-53)

Call for papers

Mediated Conversation minitrack of HICSS-53, held January 2020 at the Grand Wailea in Maui

This minitrack is part of the Digital and Social Media track of HICSS, the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, which will host its 53rd annual conference (see HICSS-53) on January 7-10, 2020, at the Grand Wailea in Maui.

Paper submission deadline: June 15, 2019

The Mediated Conversation minitrack focuses on the study of conversations taking place on digital and social media. Conversations are at the core of human communication. Mediated conversations can use text, audio, images or video, or any combination thereof. The minitrack welcomes research on conversations that are interpersonal, as well as those that occur in organizational or mass communication, educational or political contexts, and in any other sphere of human activity, including the emerging interplay of human-machine communication.

This minitrack brings together researchers and innovators to explore mediated conversation and its implications; to raise new socio-technical, ethical, pedagogical, linguistic, and social questions; and to suggest new methods, perspectives, and design approaches. The Mediated Conversation minitrack is the successor of the Persistent Conversation minitrack established by Tom Erickson and Susan Herring at HICSS in 1999, which was originally focused on the novelty of conversational persistence. With the prevalence of mediated conversation, we are called upon to consider a wider field of issues. Examples of appropriate topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Innovation in mediated conversational practice
  • The dynamics and analysis of large-scale conversation systems (e.g., MOOCs and big data applications)
  • Methods for analyzing mediated conversation: qualitative, quantitative, data analytics, etc.
  • Mediated collaboration
  • The dark side of mediated conversation: e.g., loafing, hate speech, bullying, and communication overload
  • Studies of virtual communities or other sites of mediated conversation
  • Ethics and mediated conversation: privacy, deception, freedom of speech, security, and information warfare
  • The role of mediated conversation in knowledge management
  • The role of mediated conversation in organizations
  • Domain-specific applications, opportunities, and challenges of mediated conversations and conversational exchanges (e.g., in education, healthcare, social movements, government, citizen participation, and news media)
  • Conversation visualization
  • The role of listeners, lurkers, and silent interactions
  • Novel properties of mediated conversation
  • A platform’s role in mediating the conversation
  • Power dynamics and conversational patterns among users of social media
  • The role of conversation in understanding the interplay between media producers and media audiences
  • Human-machine communication and related conversations (e.g., chatbots)

Fast track journal opportunity: Authors of papers accepted for presentation in the minitrack will be offered the opportunity to submit an extended version of their papers for consideration for fast-track publication in the ACM journal ACM Transaction on Social Computing ( Read more on Call: Mediated Conversation minitrack of Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-53)…

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Vincent Fournier’s “The Man Machine” robot photos and video explore the Uncanny Valley

[French photographer Vincent Fournier’s “The Man Machine” explores medium-as-social-actor presence (without using the term). His description of the project is below (fittingly with all but the first two paragraphs translated to English via Google Translate); visit the website for 21 photos and a 2:10 minute video. See also 2013 coverage in Slate and new coverage in Fast Company. –Matthew]

Vincent Fournier “The Man Machine”

The Man Machine project is a reflection on how artificial creatures such as robots or other avatars can evolve in our day-to-day life. For this speculative fiction series I staged several humanoid robots in realistic reconstructions of usual domestic scenes: at work, at home, in the streets, during leisure… Situations suggest both empathy and detachment towards the robot.

My aim was to create a balance between the spectator and the robot, between a process of identification and distance. We find this idea in the “the Uncanny Valley ” – a scientific theory elaborated by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori which states that the more a robot resembles a human being, the more its imperfections seem monstruous to us. The current development of these artificial creatures in our society brings fascination but also the frightening issue of the social acceptance of these changes. Read more on Vincent Fournier’s “The Man Machine” robot photos and video explore the Uncanny Valley…

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