ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Call: “Designing Interactions for the Ageing Populations” issue of Gerontechnology

Call for Papers:
Special Issue of the Gerontechnology Journal: Designing Interactions for the Ageing Populations
Special issue editors: Sayan Sarcar (University of Tsukuba), Cosmin Munteanu (University of Toronto Mississauga)

We are open to receive submissions. However, papers submitted before mid-March will be considered for the first round of the review process.
First-round notification to authors: Middle of April
Revised and resubmitted version due (for the first round): End of May 2021
Special issue publication timeline: August-September 2021

This special issue advances the study and design of digital software interfaces, particularly mobile, wearable, IoT, or conversational for the aging population. The topic is timely, as we are seeing an increase in essential consumer-level technologies (e.g. online banking, social media, remote healthcare access) that have low uptake among older adults despite their benefits. Even more, emerging tech products that are marketed as helpful for older adults are not always designed with them in mind.… read more. “Call: “Designing Interactions for the Ageing Populations” issue of Gerontechnology”

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HuggieBot 2.0: A soft and human-size robot that hugs users on request

[With the benefits of and need for hugs taking on new importance during the pandemic, this story from Tech Xplore is particularly interesting. It’s about a new and improved successor to the earlier hugging robot HuggieBot 1.0 and plans for a commercial version that will allow people to hug each other via the robot. See the original version of the story for a second image, and for more information see the new paper it mentions, a June 2018 ISPR Presence News post about the first iteration of HuggieBot, and Alexis Block’s website. –Matthew]

HuggieBot 2.0: A soft and human-size robot that hugs users on request

By Ingrid Fadelli, Tech Xplore
February 11, 2021

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) and ETH Zürich have recently created HuggieBot 2.0, a robot that can hug users at their request.… read more. “HuggieBot 2.0: A soft and human-size robot that hugs users on request”

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Call: “The Phenomenon of Interaction in Human-Machine Interaction” Online Workshop

Call for Participation

Annual conference of the research cluster digitale_kultur at the University of Hagen and the Emmy Noether Research Group (DFG): “The Phenomenon of Interaction in Human-Machine Interaction (MMI)”
March 3-5, 2021
The conference will take place as an interactive online event

Registrations accepted until March 1, 2021

The workshop looks at qualitative innovations of current human-machine interactions from an interdisciplinary perspective. Philosophical, cultural-, social- and educational approaches as well as perspectives of the technology developers are being discussed.

The focus lies on the social and cultural implications of new MMI. Starting point are current discussions about the limits and potentials of the information paradigm. In the face of current technological developments, it is up to debate whether new forms of MMI can still be described exhaustively by the information paradigm or whether different description modes are needed.… read more. “Call: “The Phenomenon of Interaction in Human-Machine Interaction” Online Workshop”

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Astronomical presence illusion in Dubai baffles onlookers

[An interesting and apparently successful astronomical presence illusion is the subject of this short item from DesignTAXI, where the original includes two videos and an embedded tweet. Cosmopolitan Middle East has more images and the illusion merited coverage at Snopes, where there’s more information. –Matthew]

[Image: Source: IBB Online]

‘Double Moon’ In Dubai Baffles Onlookers, Turns Out To Be A Stellar Stunt

By Izza Sofia
17 February 2021

Residents in Dubai were surprised when they witnessed two moons appearing in the night skies last week.

Snaps of the moons in the skies made their way online with many thinking the apocalypse was looming. Even the media covered the “Double Moon” phenomenon. [From Gulf News: “After the moons appeared, Instagram and Twitter users have been discussing theories about what these curious objects are. The most popular one is called ‘Double Moon’ and suggests that some planets can appear as big as the moon due to the stars’ alignment.… read more. “Astronomical presence illusion in Dubai baffles onlookers”

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Call: StoryBits Conference

Call for Submissions

StoryBits Conference
An online event from Covilhã, Portugal
April 21-22-23, 2021

Submission deadlines:
Communication for paper: March 07, 2021
Project, Thematic Table and Workshop: March 21, 2021


Digital media have fostered the emergence of multiple narrative formats and modes of representation, that mirror the new processes of mediation and remediation. The StoryBits conference, with a focus on this reality, is a natural continuum to former events, dedicated to the area of digital and interactive expressions of documentary, organized by the University of Beira Interior between 2016 and 2018, but broadens this thematic focus to include other genres, formats and narrative models.

StoryBits thus arises from the need to create a scientific event that promotes discussion around digital media and the diversity of creation and production of narratives that emerge from this context. It aims to promote theoretical and scientific knowledge about these new narratological expressions, including in this reflection the need for project-based research practices, and the sharing of experiences between researchers and professionals in the field.… read more. “Call: StoryBits Conference”

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Ethics of presence: Billionaires see VR as a way to avoid radical social change

[Presence scholars and technology enthusiasts have to remember the darker potential of presence, frequently portrayed in entertaining science fiction, to become an excuse to stop working to improve our nonmediated lives and world, and leave them in the control of people and organizations with selfish, economically driven agendas. This Wired story makes that possibility depressingly ‘real.’ –Matthew]

Billionaires See VR as a Way to Avoid Radical Social Change

Tech oligarchs are encouraging the creation of virtual worlds as a cheap way to avoid problems in the real one.

By Matthew Gault
February 15, 2021

The future of virtual reality is far more than just video games. Silicon Valley sees the creation of virtual worlds as the ultimate free-market solution to a political problem. In a world of increasing wealth inequality, environmental disaster, and political instability, why not sell everyone a device that whisks them away to a virtual world free of pain and suffering?… read more. “Ethics of presence: Billionaires see VR as a way to avoid radical social change”

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Call: Spatial Cognition 2020/1

Call for Papers

Spatial Cognition 2020/1 (SC 2020/1)
University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia [or hybrid or all-online; see note below]
August 2- 4, 2021

Submission deadline: March 15, 2021

NOTE: This conference was originally scheduled for August 2020. We now aim to hold it in August 2021. It will be a hybrid conference (with some talks in physical co-presence and some virtual), or entirely virtual if necessary.

Renewed Call for Papers

Spatial Cognition is concerned with the acquisition, development, representation, organization, and use of knowledge about spatial objects in real, virtual or hybrid environments and processed by human or artificial agents. Spatial Cognition includes research from fields such as cognitive and developmental psychology, linguistics, computer science, geography, cartography, philosophy, neuroscience, and education. The conference is single-track, and the final program will be the result of a selective review process. The program will include oral and poster presentations of refereed papers, symposia and keynote talks.… read more. “Call: Spatial Cognition 2020/1”

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Shakespeare in your living room: How AR can transform teaching

[This story about the development and use of a new augmented reality application to enhance presence in online teaching and learning during pandemic lockdowns and beyond comes from THE (Times Higher Education). The original story includes related links, and for more information see the websites for ARstorydecks, particularly the lesson plans page; Royal Holloway’s master’s program in Immersive Storytelling; and the StoryFutures Academy Train the Trainer initiative. –Matthew]

Shakespeare in your living room: How AR can transform teaching

It won’t be long before we’re all looking to immersive technology to further students’ learning, says

By Mary Matheson
January 21, 2021

It’s a scene that could be observed in any drama student’s room in lockdown. An online performance of Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A young actor recites the moment where Pyramus stabs himself with his own sword: “Thus I die.… read more. “Shakespeare in your living room: How AR can transform teaching”

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Call: CoG 2021 – 3rd IEEE Conference on Games

Call for Papers

CoG 2021 – 3rd IEEE Conference on Games
17–20 August
It University of Copenhagen

Deadline for full papers: April 9th 2021

Games offer a limitless domain for computational creativity, design, technology, education, social sciences, and artificial intelligence. The annual IEEE Conference on Games (CoG) is a unique forum for cutting-edge research related to game technologies and design, covering scientific, technical, social, and human aspects of games.

CoG was expressly launched to reflect the changing nature of games as technology and media; where concerns merge, overlap, and cross-pollinate. Beginning as an evolution of the Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG) and later joined by the International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games), CoG brings together leading researchers and practitioners from academia and industry, to share recent advances and co-create future directions.

This year’s edition of CoG continues forging the path of attracting an evermore competent and diverse audience.… read more. “Call: CoG 2021 – 3rd IEEE Conference on Games”

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The impeachment trial’s virtual reality

[Watching two recent major events in the U.S. on television reminded me of how non-interactive media can evoke a powerful sense of being there. The first was the live inauguration of President Biden and the various related activities that day, and the second is described well in this CNN story from last week about how the impeachment managers in the second trial of Donald Trump used a variety of video, audio and connecting narrative to recreate the harrowing experience of the insurrection at the Capitol. See the original story for several examples. –Matthew]

[Image: An image from the security video shown to senators as House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell speaks during Wednesday’s impeachment trial.]

The impeachment trial’s virtual reality

Analysis by Maeve Reston, CNN
February 11, 2021

Before former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, many Capitol Hill Republicans had argued it was futile to force them to relive the January 6 insurrection because they were already witnesses who knew the facts.… read more. “The impeachment trial’s virtual reality”

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