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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: 8th Workshop on Applications of Software Agents – WASA 2018

Call for Papers

8th Workshop on Applications of Software Agents – WASA 2018

in conjunction with
8th International Conference on Web Intelligence, Mining and Semantics – WIMS 2018

Novi Sad, Serbia, June 25-27, 2018

Submission of papers to WASA: February 7, 2018


Software agent technologies reached a certain level of maturity that allows development of applications spanning from lab prototypes to mature real-life systems, in domains that could have not been imagined before. Furthermore, software agent technologies proved their usefulness in synergy with methods of intelligent computing and artificial intelligence.

The aim of the WASA workshop is to contribute to the advancement of technologies and applications of software agents’ with a special interest in intelligent computing including, but not limited to: reasoning, semantics, pattern recognition, learning and cognition, etc.

The workshop welcomes papers addressing research and experience reports on various applications of software agents. Papers describing finalized research, as well as work-in-progress, are welcome. The topics of the workshop cover, broadly understood, software agent and intelligent technologies connected to applications and experiences in areas like:

  • e-business
  • social networks
  • e-learning
  • grid and cloud computing
  • gaming
  • smart environments
  • e-health
  • multimedia
  • disaster and crisis management
  • virtual organizations
  • simulation
  • energy conservation
  • sustainability and green computing
  • planning and decision making
  • traffic control
  • image and video understanding
  • manufacturing and industrial management
  • etc – this list is not exhaustive

Read more on Call: 8th Workshop on Applications of Software Agents – WASA 2018…

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Paris Syndrome: Photographer Francois Prost explores a replica city in China

[A 2013 ISPR Presence News post described Tianducheng, a replica of Paris in China; now François Prost has created a photo series that pairs images from the ‘real’ and the replica. This interesting (and lightly edited) story is from It’s Nice That. See more of the images in the original story and on the photographer’s website, and find more coverage from CityLab. –Matthew]

Paris Syndrome: photographer Francois Prost explores a replica city in China

Words by Bryony Stone
January 4, 2018

“I will always remember the first time I went to Venice,” photographer François Prost remembers. “I was 23. I arrived there by train on my own, and as soon as I got out of the train station, I had this strange feeling of not knowing if what I saw was real or not. The same thing happened when I went to Rome, to India and to New York. Those places are such full of history, references and fantasy that when you go there for real, it kind of mess up things in your brain: you’re suddenly confronting the reality of the images you have seen. I later learned that this was called Stendhal Syndrome, and that it was a phenomenon happening a lot to Japanese tourists coming to Paris or Florence.”

Stendhal Syndrome, which is also known as hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome, is a supposed — although medically unconfirmed — psychosomatic condition which causes symptoms such as fainting or confusion in individuals exposed to remarkable works of art. According to an article published by the BBC, Paris has its very own strand of the condition: roughly 12 Japanese tourists to Paris per year are affected by depression or even a breakdown triggered by the disconnect between their expectations and the reality of the culturally rich, world-famous city.

“Thinking about it,” François muses, “any kind of travelling probably involves this reaction at different type of level, depending on how important and heavy the cultural references of destinations are.” The idea behind Francois’ latest series Paris Syndrome began when the Parisian photographer chanced upon an article by Rosecrans Baldwin in which the American journalist travelled to the 20 or so towns called Paris in the US. “The journalist wanted to understand the origin, the reason, and the influence of this ‘naming’”, François explains. “He also wanted to analyse the connections between the different places and the ‘original’ Paris, and the consistency of the French cliché remaining in the US. So he went to those different Paris and asked people living there about all of this. He soon came to the conclusion that people there were living as they would live anywhere else in USA and weren’t very sensitive about their town’s name.”

Inspired, François set about translating Baldwin’s concept visually. “First, I came up with the idea of photographing every Eiffel Tower in the world, but it became too ambitious financially. Then I remembered this place in China that I’d seen in Romain Gavras’ music video for Jamie XX track Gosh and I thought it would be very interesting to compare actual sites from Paris with sites from a replica of Paris.” Read more on Paris Syndrome: Photographer Francois Prost explores a replica city in China…

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Call: “Re-Examining Cognitive Tools” issue of Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET)

Call for Papers

Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET) Special Issue:
Re-Examining Cognitive Tools: New Developments, New Perspectives, and New Opportunities for Educational Technology Research

Submission deadline: 1 August 2018


Christopher Drew, Senior Lecturer in Education, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law, Teesside University, UK

Mark J. W. Lee, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia and Visiting Faculty, Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University, USA


Submissions are invited for a forthcoming special issue of AJET to be published in early 2019, entitled Re-examining cognitive tools: New developments, new perspectives, and new opportunities for educational technology research.

The idea of digital technologies as cognitive or ‘mind tools’ was advocated in the 1990s by a number of educational scholars (e.g., Jonassen, 1991, 1994, 1996; Jonassen & Reeves, 1996; Lajoie & Derry, 1993) who argued that computing devices and software could be usefully viewed in terms of their affordances for facilitating cognitive activities in support of learning. Central to the concept is an emphasis on students’ learning with, rather than from or through, the technology as they undertake higher order thinking tasks. This underscores the role technologies can play in enabling student-directed experiences that give rise to deep learning and engagement.

Today, the concept of cognitive tools continues to offer a relevant and important lens through which to understand how learners engage in cognitive activities by leveraging the capabilities and affordances of contemporary technologies (Herrington & Parker, 2013; Hwang, Shi, & Chu, 2011; Lee, Pradhan, & Dalgarno, 2008; Liu, Horton, Toprac, & Yuen, 2011; Wang, Hsu, Reeves, & Coster, 2014; Zap & Code, 2016). However, following Iiyoshi, Hannafin, and Wang (2005, p. 291), it remains the case that “cognitive tool technology offers substantial potential to improve learning, but requires significant study to determine the factors that influence their successful application” (see also Kim, 2012; Kim & Reeves, 2007). Furthermore, over the course of the intervening decades since the concept was first popularised, the educational technology landscape has transformed drastically from one in which desktop computer-assisted learning (CAL) packages and static hypermedia environments were considered state of the art, into one where Internet-connected mobile, wearable, and embedded computing devices proliferate; where students and teachers routinely use online social media for personal as well as educational purposes; and where immersive virtual reality looks to finally be entering the mainstream. With all of the above in mind, this special issue seeks to stimulate further conversation on cognitive tools for learning in post-secondary education, revisiting the concept in light of recent developments and advances not only technologically, but also with respect to learning theory, pedagogy, instructional design, cognitive science, and psychology.

SUGGESTED TOPICS Read more on Call: “Re-Examining Cognitive Tools” issue of Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET)…

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Will virtual reality home schooling become the new normal?

[This story from MustTech News explores an interesting possible impact of the evolution of presence-evoking technologies. –Matthew]

Will Virtual Reality Home Schooling Become the New Normal?

The thought may strike fear into the hearts of teachers, but it’s a trend with real potential for leveling the educational playing field.

By Mustafa ULU
January 17, 2018

I’ve known many teachers, and they’re among the hardest working, least recognized heroes I know. So it’s not without reservation that I pen this article. But doing some research for our futuristic Flex House project recently, I stumbled into a trend that could quickly grow into a social and cultural game changer.

The Rise of VR Education

Like most technology, the potential to build or destroy lies in what we do with it. And virtual reality is especially seductive. It’s immersive, and getting more immersive, raising boggling questions about the very nature of reality. For example, if you and I are sharing a VR experience on the moon, but my body is in Boston and yours is in China, where are we? And by “we”, I mean our individual spark of consciousness. Go even further down the rabbit hole: Does it matter if the moon is the real moon or a virtual moon of some programmer’s imagination?

Let’s leave such fascinating questions aside for a moment, and strap on our “state of the VR education market” headsets.

Educational apps for VR are multiplying rapidly. Self-contained VR headsets now can be had for a shockingly low price. The Spectra headset from Hamilton Buhl, for example, retails for under $50. And so far at least, much of the software is free. Say you’re a parent leaning toward homeschooling. Compare the price of a VR headset with that of textbooks and real-world field trips. There’s no contest.

The Home Front

There’s been a lot of talk about the potential of VR in the classroom, as a teacher’s aide. That’s certainly a viable idea. In that scenario, the teacher plays a role like that of the Magic Schoolbus driver, escorting students on an exciting first-person journey into the human body, or Machu Pichu or Jupiter.

But let’s not overlook homeschoolers. About 4 percent of U.S. kids are homeschooled. My guess is that VR will boost that number significantly. And it’s not because parents want to drive the magic school bus. What will drive it is AI, the availability of programs that essentially run themselves. This is not automatically a good thing. Inevitable? Probably. Key to the outcome will be the context of the apps. Will they teach compassion, acceptance of diversity, creativity, and collaboration—or something more sinister? Read more on Will virtual reality home schooling become the new normal?…

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Call: New Agents and Agencies: Science, Technology, and Subjectivity Summer School

Call for Applications

New Agents and Agencies: Science, Technology, and Subjectivity
2018 Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Summer School
July 8-12 2018
Tel Aviv University

Deadline for submission: February 15, 2018

Dear all,

We are pleased to invite applications for the 2018 Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Summer School on New Agents & Agencies: Science, Technology & Subjectivity.

With the rise of new technology-centered environments – such as social media, virtual worlds, online marketing, gaming, smart homes, and city surveillance – we face the growing presence of nonhuman agents and new forms of human agencies. We invite doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers to participate in a summer school workshop that delves into these topics. The summer school will provide the setting for advancing our understanding of these new agents and agencies and their ethical, social, political, historical, and philosophical significance. Specifically, we will explore the interaction between (a) nonhuman “agents,” such as robots, AI machines, games, computational algorithms, autonomous cars, and drones, and (b) new forms of technologically mediated human agencies, such as online interactions, new social media, gaming, cyborgs, and avatars. The summer school will be devoted to examining specific forms of new agents and agencies and to studying their differences and similarities. It will address the underlying question as to whether these new phenomena, taken together, entail a transformation of the human condition, and if so, what the social, political, and ethical implications of this change are. During the summer school, participants will attend master class sessions, discuss the theoretical approaches of different disciplines, study applied problems and present their own work.

This five-day summer school is open to postdoctoral and advanced PhD students of all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences such as philosophy, history, psychology, law, sociology, political theory, anthropology, and including new media, computer science biology, and the medical humanities. For more information please visit the workshop’s webpage: Read more on Call: New Agents and Agencies: Science, Technology, and Subjectivity Summer School…

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Take a fantastic 3D voyage through the brain with new immersive virtual reality system

[This November news release from the Wyss Center at the University of Geneva describes a promising new way to use presence-evoking technology to experience the intricate details of the brain; the original version includes an additional picture and a recommended 0:34 minute video (also available via YouTube). Quartz has another new and recommended 1:54 minute video. –Matthew]

Take a fantastic 3D voyage through the brain with new immersive virtual reality system

Put your head inside a brain!

November 15, 2017

A new immersive virtual reality (VR) experience now offers a unique way to visualize and interact with large volumes of 3D anatomical brain data. The system, developed by researchers from the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering and the University of Geneva, has applications in neurotechnology development, research and surgeon training. A poster describing the system will be presented on Wednesday 15 November at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience 2017, in Washington DC.

Users wearing VR goggles can put their head inside a mouse brain and visualize the 3D structure at cellular resolution. Interactive hand-held pointers allow rapid, natural interaction with the data to highlight, select, slice and zoom.

Developed to help handle the huge volumes of data now routinely produced by a new generation of high-resolution imaging techniques, the system is a novel tool to analyze data like that produced by the Wyss Center’s custom lightsheet microscope at Campus Biotech in Geneva, Switzerland. Read more on Take a fantastic 3D voyage through the brain with new immersive virtual reality system…

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Call: CHI 2018 Workshop – Reshaping Touch Communication: An Interdisciplinary Research Agenda

Call for Papers

CHI 2018 Workshop – Reshaping Touch Communication: An Interdisciplinary Research Agenda

Submission deadline: 2/2/2018
Notification: 22/2/2018
Workshop date: 21/4/2018

Workshop website:

CHI 2018, April 21-26, Montréal, Canada


This one-day workshop brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers and designers to examine new forms of touch communication enabled by digital touch technologies, address key social questions and challenges for HCI, reshape future research agendas, and build a cross disciplinary community that fosters subsequent collaboration. The workshop will focus on three themes: touch and sensory embodiment; affective communication; and ethical and methodological challenges in HCI design, to discuss and explore digital touch communication in various contexts (e.g. health, wellbeing, personal relationships, work and leisure). It will provide opportunities to share ongoing work, with a view towards setting an interdisciplinary research agenda for digital touch communication that effectively integrates technology progression with robust interrogation of societal implications of digital touch.

SUBMISSION DETAILS Read more on Call: CHI 2018 Workshop – Reshaping Touch Communication: An Interdisciplinary Research Agenda…

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Black Box VR integrates VR, AI and exercise equipment to create gym of the future

[The start-up Black Box VR, which was named a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree, seems to more thoroughly integrate virtual reality, artificial intelligence and exercise equipment to produce a motivating sense of spatial and social presence than previous efforts. The story below is from BBC News and includes a first person report (for others see coverage in Business Insider and Tom’s Guide); for more information including videos see the company’s website and a press release via PRWeb. –Matthew]

CES 2018: Black Box VR wants to make gamers fit

January 7, 2018

Start-up Black Box VR has developed a full-body workout in the form of a 30-minute virtual reality experience.

It uses a bespoke resistance training machine and an HTC Vive headset. The entire set-up is about the size of a family bathroom.

It is one of several innovations at the CES tech show in Las Vegas to propose mixing VR and fitness training.

But one expert said the firm would need to address safety concerns for the idea to be a success.

The Idaho-based firm’s solution involves participants entering a virtual arena, where they compete against an avatar and, eventually, one another.

The firm’s founders, Ryan DeLuca and Preston Lewis, were also behind the successful fitness empire Read more on Black Box VR integrates VR, AI and exercise equipment to create gym of the future…

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Job: Postdoc on “Enactive biofeedback, VR/360 storytelling and sound” at Tallinn University

From: Pia Tikka <>
Date: Sun, Jan 14, 2018 at 9:49 AM
Subject: Last call: EU Mobilitas postdoc research on Enactive biofeedback, VR/ 360° storytelling and sound, Tallinn University

Last moments to apply for 2018 EU Mobilitas Pluss postdoc position in the Enactive Virtuality research team at Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School (BFM) & Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture (MEDIT), Tallinn University.

Read more on Job: Postdoc on “Enactive biofeedback, VR/360 storytelling and sound” at Tallinn University…

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At CES, Netflix uses presence to promote new TV series about presence

[This story from Engadget describes how Netflix used an exhibition booth at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to evoke presence in visitors to promote a new TV series about presence after death (the topic of the most recent new episode of The X-Files (season 11, episode 2; spoiler-filled summary available from Vulture). The Engadget story includes 11 more photos and for more information see the Netflix page for the new series and coverage in DesignTAXI that includes photos, videos and tweets from CES. –Matthew]

Netflix hid a fake biotech booth in the middle of CES

Oblivious attendees might have been the best part.

Mat Smith
January 10, 2018

Venture beyond tech whales like Samsung and Sony, beyond the rows of smart speakers and giant TVs, and you’ll discover that there are weirder things to be found at CES. That might be why Netflix’s trojan horse public relations move, establishing a fictional vendor booth deep within the Las Vegas Convention Center, worked a little too well.

Well, I cheated. I was already briefed (through a press release) that “Psychasec” wasn’t a genuine CES exhibitor, despite this full-fledged stall you see here. Nope, this is a fictional company from Altered Carbon, the next big-budget sci-fi series from Netflix, which seems to borrow heavily from Blade Runner, at least in visual delivery. Read more on At CES, Netflix uses presence to promote new TV series about presence…

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