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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: MUM 2020, 19th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia

Call for Papers

MUM 2020, the 19th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia
22-25 November 2020
Essen, Germany (see Note below)
http://www.mum-conf.org/2020/

IMPORTANT DATES:
Submissions: August 10th, 2020
Notifications: October 1st, 2020
Conference Dates: November 22nd-25th, 2020

NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, we are currently looking into different ways to hold MUM2020. The latest developments show that the German government is loosening the meeting and travel restrictions, and we are currently exploring the idea of running a hybrid conference allowing physical as well as virtual participation by November. The safety of all attendees is our primary concern, and we have to consider the situations in many other countries to guarantee inclusiveness. Thus, even if we decide to run a hybrid conference format, we will make sure to facilitate virtual participation for all of our tracks at MUM2020. In any case, all submissions will follow the usual review and publication process.… read more. “Call: MUM 2020, 19th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia”

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Teleoperation in a pandemic: Japanese convenience stores testing VR-controlled robots

[Among the presence-evoking technologies useful during a pandemic is teleoperated robots. This story from Digital Trends describes how they’re being tested by the FamilyMart chain of Japanese stores; the original version of the story includes the impressive 1:20 minute timeline video from the website of the robots’ maker, Telexistence (it’s also available via YouTube). Coverage in VRScout begins with this: “Imagine walking into your local convenience store only to find the usual checkout person had been replaced by a remote-controlled robot operated in VR by a human being located hundreds of miles away”; see that story for more images and a 1:44 minute Telexistence video on “The Future Of Shopping.” A more detailed 2:30 minute video report on earlier versions of the company’s robots is also available on YouTube. And for a related development, see stories in American Inno and Smart Cities Dive about the testing of a teleoperated fleet of e-scooters in Atlanta and other cities.… read more. “Teleoperation in a pandemic: Japanese convenience stores testing VR-controlled robots”

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Facebook’s prototype photoreal avatars now have realistic eyes

[Effective social presence in virtual reality depends on realistic real-time digital representations of human eyes; this short story from UploadVR describes a new system developed by Facebook Research to accomplish this. The abstract of the detailed research report about the system concludes with this: “Our quantitative experiments show that our method results in higher reconstruction quality, and qualitative results show our method gives a greatly improved sense of presence for VR avatars.” You can find the abstract and full paper along with a 5:14 minute video (also available via YouTube) on the Facebook Research website. –Matthew]

Facebook’s Prototype Photoreal Avatars Now Have Realistic Eyes

Researchers at Facebook figured out how to add natural looking eyes to their photorealistic avatar research.

David Heaney
July 02, 2020

Facebook, which owns the Oculus brand of VR products, first showed off this ‘Codec Avatars’ project back in March 2019.… read more. “Facebook’s prototype photoreal avatars now have realistic eyes”

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Call: Designing for Orchestration in Mixed and Virtual Reality: Challenges and Best Practices – NordiCHI 2020 workshop

Call for Papers

“Designing for Orchestration in Mixed and Virtual Reality: Challenges and Best Practices”
NordiCHI 2020 workshop
25th of October 2020, 9:00 – 17:30
https://www.unitylab.de/designing-for-orchestration-in-xr-nordichi-2020-workshop

Paper submission deadline: 1st of September 2020

NOTE: The workshop will be held as a full-day workshop containing four sessions with distinguished activities. We aim for an interactive workshop with space for discussion and expression. Due to the current CoVid-19 pandemic, we plan to offer this workshop online, mediated using online conferencing tools and web-based shared virtual spaces. In case of the conference taking place in Tallinn, the workshop can easily be offered on-site.

We are pleased to invite you to the NordiCHI 2020 (https://nordichi2020.org) workshop “Designing for Orchestration in Mixed and Virtual Reality: Challenges and Best Practices.”

ABSTRACT:

Mixed and Virtual Reality (XR) have seen an important development since the advent of low-cost technologies.… read more. “Call: Designing for Orchestration in Mixed and Virtual Reality: Challenges and Best Practices – NordiCHI 2020 workshop”

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New documentary highlights positive use of deepfake technology

[Vox reports on a rare positive use of deepfake technology: disguising identities of vulnerable people who appear on camera while allowing viewers to fully “see” them. See the original story for two different images and three videos. For more details and a video about the process, see coverage in Documentary Magazine, which adds this important detail:

“It’s possible for the face veil to be completely undetectable. But France and his team wanted viewers to know who wore a [digital] veil and who didn’t. (The Russian activists generally did not.) ‘It’s an instant visual communicator that that person is in danger,’ Laney explains. ‘So for the first 20 shots, we turned the effect up to let the audience know.’”

A New York Times story has other details as well. –Matthew]

[Image: Source: Documentary Magazine]

How deepfakes could actually do some good

A new documentary highlights how the controversial technology can protect people.read more. “New documentary highlights positive use of deepfake technology”

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Call: Phenomenology and Virtuality issue of Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

Call for Papers

Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology
Special issue: Phenomenology and Virtuality
https://www.nisc.co.za/news/137/announcements-and-notices/call-for-papers-phenomenology-and-virtuality

Edited by Gregory Swer and Jean du Toit

Submissions due before: 24 August 2020

Our age is typified by technology (Kroes & Meijers, 2016: 12), but it is the question of the virtual that has particularly come to the forefront after the turn of the century. The contemporary era of emergent digital technologies has seen the multiplication of virtual spaces – our civilizations are indeed steeped in the virtual – which has resulted in complex changes to the dimensions of our existence and experience. While thinkers such as Baudrillard (in Simulacra and Simulation (1981)) emphasize a dichotomous relationship between reality and virtual reality, the enmeshed character of modern individuals within emergent virtual spaces may call into question the continuing relevance of such oppositions.

The term virtuality (a conflation of the words reality and virtual) may present a challenge to dichotomous views on reality and the virtual.… read more. “Call: Phenomenology and Virtuality issue of Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology”

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‘Liberty Bell’ animated 3D AR public art at 6 historic sites explores liberty’s ideal amid today’s divisions

[I need to go experience the Philadelphia version of the interesting use of augmented reality and the presence it can evoke described in this story from The New York Times (where the original includes 5 different pictures and 2 short videos). For more details about the project, see the Art Production Fund website. Coverage in artnet News adds these important observations:

[Artist Nancy Baker] Cahill, who draws in VR before working with a tech team to convert her images to AR, is committed to the nascent medium. “It inherently has subversive potential. It is invisible to the naked eye, and yet it exists in that space,” she said. “I think it’s one of the most accessible ways of sharing and engaging in art, because you can experience it on phones and tablets.”

The work lasts a minute and a half and is accompanied by a soundscape designed by Anna Luisa Petrisko based on sounds of bells, both historic recordings and synthesized music. … read more. “‘Liberty Bell’ animated 3D AR public art at 6 historic sites explores liberty’s ideal amid today’s divisions”

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Job: Post-doctoral fellowship at the Center on Digital Culture and Society at University of Pennsylvania

Call for Applications

Post-doctoral Fellowship
Center on Digital Culture and Society
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
https://cdcs.asc.upenn.edu/call-for-applications-cdcs-postdoctoral-fellowship/

Application deadline: August 1, 2020

The Center on Digital Culture and Society (https://cdcs.asc.upenn.edu/) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication invites applications to fill one postdoctoral fellowship position for the 2020-2021 academic year. Applications are welcomed from scholars who have received their Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the last three years. The term of appointment is September 1, 2020 – August 31, 2021.

Founded in July 2019, the Center on Digital Culture and Society (CDCS) supports critical, interdisciplinary scholarship on digital culture, technology, and society. CDCS aims to develop critical approaches to digital cultural studies and create spaces for dialogue and collaboration among academics, citizens, and activists; develop critical approaches to the study of digital culture and technology; help train new generations of digital researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and beyond; build global networks of researchers; advocate for socially just design, production, and use of digital technologies; and explore and foster new visions of digital futures through scholarship and public communication.… read more. “Job: Post-doctoral fellowship at the Center on Digital Culture and Society at University of Pennsylvania”

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“World’s first” digital human AI partner promises companionship during Coronavirus era

[As this story from Forbes notes, Hybri isn’t the first attempt to create compelling digital companions, and it assumes the upcoming Kickstarter campaign will be successful, but it’s an interesting example of a social presence technology and raises lots of ethical questions. For example, coverage in Beebom includes this:

“[A] digital companion is not at all creepy, until it has the face of one of your loved ones who left you or even passed away. This feature makes Hybri one of the creepiest apps I have ever seen. … So, technically, you can use a picture of a person who is not anymore in this world to create his/her digital version. This is quite creepy and reminds of an episode of ‘Black Mirror’, in which a wife creates a digital version of her husband who passed away in a car accident.” (emphasis in original)

A story in the Daily Star, and the Hybri website and Kickstarter preview page (both of which include more information, images and videos), emphasize the romantic and even sexual uses of the technology.… read more. ““World’s first” digital human AI partner promises companionship during Coronavirus era”

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Call: AI Fiction / Artificial Intelligence and Fiction Conference

Call for Papers

AI Fiction / Artificial Intelligence and Fiction
3 to 5 June 2021
Paris, France
https://cis.cnrs.fr/ia-fictions/

Submission deadline: 30 September 2020

This international conference, organized by the University Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, in partnership with the Center for Internet and Society, will be held in Paris from 3 to 5 June 2021. A call for papers is open until 30 September 2020.

This is the first conference ever organized on the theme of artificial intelligence in fiction (literature, series, films, comics, video games): the focus will be on representations of AI and their meanings, as well as the creative uses of AI to produce and understand fiction.

A road trip entirely written by an artificial intelligence embedded in a car, Ross Goodwin’s 1 the road has joined at the start of the 2019 literary season a whole series of texts whose common point was to stage and act out a dream of automation and artificialization of literary language, whose genealogy goes back at least to the first automatic writings of Oulipo: artificial intelligence is no longer just a fiction but a tool for producing fiction.… read more. “Call: AI Fiction / Artificial Intelligence and Fiction Conference”

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