ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

News stories explicitly or implicitly related to presence from a wide variety of sources

Feel tremors under your feet or watch an ocean bed split open: VR tech brings geography lessons to life

[Geography students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) can learn about earthquakes by experiencing vivid simulations from a variety of perspectives thanks to a combination of virtual reality and vibrating platforms. See the original version of this story for two additional images. For more on this topic see the ISPR Presence News posts “Big Shaker mobile earthquake simulator used to increase awareness and safety” (October 2019) and “An earthquake simulator to treat PTSD in New Zealand” (June 2012). –Matthew]

[Image: The VR tech adds a touch of realism to the learning experience, allowing students to immerse themselves in various scenarios of earth processes that can be difficult to visualise without first-hand experience.]

Feel tremors under your feet or watch an ocean bed split open: VR tech brings geography lessons to life

March 1, 2022

You are standing in an apartment when you hear on the news that an earthquake has struck.… read more. “Feel tremors under your feet or watch an ocean bed split open: VR tech brings geography lessons to life”

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Passive training virtually can reduce psychosocial stress and anxiety

[A new, important and all-too-timely benefit of the presence evoked by passive viewing of virtual exercise from the first-person perspective has been found in a study from Tohoku University. For more details see the published study. –Matthew]

[Image: Figure 2 from the new study: Participants and the virtual bodies in the virtual scenario: (A,D) male and female participants sitting, wearing the visor and looking in the direction that was coherent with their group assignment in order to see the avatar (the male is looking down, towards himself; the female is looking to her left side), respectively; (B) (static phase) and (C) (dynamic phase) the male virtual body displayed from 1PP; (E) (static phase) and (F) (dynamic phase) the female virtual body displayed from 3PP.]

Training Virtually Can Reduce Psychosocial Stress and Anxiety

June 17, 2022

Previous research has described how virtual training produces acute cognitive and neural benefits.… read more. “Passive training virtually can reduce psychosocial stress and anxiety”

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New acoustic levitation tech blurs boundary between physical and digital, could revolutionize immersive entertainment

[A new technology demonstrated by University College London researchers offers the possibility of “fully immersive real-world simulations without the need for clunky headsets or goggles.” The details and links to more information are in this UCL news release and watch a 2:42 video about the new tech on YouTube. –Matthew]

Levitating objects with sound could revolutionise virtual reality and 3D printing

21 June 2022

Using sound to levitate something when there are other objects in the way has been shown for the first time by UCL researchers and could lead to advances in the manufacturing and entertainment sectors. The findings open up possibilities for more advanced interactive entertainment through virtual reality and mixed reality at theme parks, arcades and museums. Technology using 3D levitation could lead the way to fully immersive real-world simulations without the need for clunky headsets or goggles.… read more. “New acoustic levitation tech blurs boundary between physical and digital, could revolutionize immersive entertainment”

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Alexa has a new voice – your dead relative’s

[The headline of this Washington Post story is premature since Amazon is still developing the feature, but the ability to have Alexa speak in the voice of someone who has died based on only a minute’s worth of voice recordings represents another example of ways technology can be used to evoke presence after death. The excerpt from coverage in The Verge that follows below notes that Amazon’s senior VP and head scientist of Alexa artificial intelligence “said the feature could enable customers to have ‘lasting personal relationships’ with the deceased.” Of course as the Washington Post sub-headline notes, this raises a variety of practical and ethical concerns. In a Microsoft blog post a few days ago, that company’s Chief Responsible AI Officer announced that the company is restricting its similar Custom Neural Voice feature: “This technology has exciting potential in education, accessibility, and entertainment, and yet it is also easy to imagine how it could be used to inappropriately impersonate speakers and deceive listeners.”… read more. “Alexa has a new voice – your dead relative’s”

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Conference events in VR: The reality

[In this post from No Jitter, a long-time “independent communications technology consultant” reports on his experience at a recent virtual conference event and provides observations and predictions about the prospects for this application of presence-evoking technology; follow the link to his 5:30 minute video (on YouTube) and see his About page for links to other presence-related posts and videos. –Matthew]

Virtual Events in VR: The Reality

An industry analyst shares his thoughts on the VR option for NICE’s recent Interactions event.

By Tom Brannen
June 21, 2022

As someone who is super interested in virtual reality (VR), I jumped at the chance to attend the recent NICE Interactions 2022 virtual conference in VR. While the event drew 25,000 virtual attendees from around the world in a more traditional web-based video experience, NICE also offered a VR experience to interested attendees.… read more. “Conference events in VR: The reality”

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Medium-as-social-actor presence: Swedish city adds risqué voices to trash cans to discourage littering

[In an amusing example of medium-as-social-actor presence, the Swedish city Malmö is encouraging people to use its public trash cans by having them “dish out racy audio messages after being fed trash,” as reported below by CNN (and in case you’re wondering, confirmed by Snopes). The original story includes a video (also on YouTube) that demonstrates the trash cans’ voice responses (in Swedish). Initially the voice was only female, which generated objections similar to those regarding the gendering of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa; a writer in Quartz noted that “If we’re socializing the idea that women should talk dirty but be grateful for having trash tossed their way, what message could that possibly send?” But a follow-up story in Malmo’s The Local reports that the city has now added a male voice (and that the identity of the female voice has been revealed); see that story or YouTube for a video featuring both voices.… read more. “Medium-as-social-actor presence: Swedish city adds risqué voices to trash cans to discourage littering”

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Meta reveals VR prototypes on path to improve presence and pass the ‘Visual Turing test’

[Meta has revealed a series of prototypes for future VR headsets and explained how it’s working to solve key barriers to the key goal of producing, in the words of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “a realistic sense of presence, … the feeling of being with someone or in some place as if you’re physically there.” This story from Engadget provides details and the original includes several images. The author of coverage in New Atlas (which includes the 29:14 minute “Meta VR prototypes: Inside the Lab” video, also available on YouTube), notes that realistic visuals aren’t the only challenge:

“I think it’s worth reiterating that the Quest and Quest 2 are already devices capable of delivering a staggering sense of immersion. Sure, the graphics are a bit chunky, but I’d argue that’s not what’s holding VR back at this point. The roadblocks to today’s users are still content and queasiness.… read more. “Meta reveals VR prototypes on path to improve presence and pass the ‘Visual Turing test’”

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Voicemod software uses AI to transform your voice into Morgan Freeman, astronauts, and more

[The Verge reports on Voicemod’s use of artificial intelligence to create more convincing real-time transformations of anyone’s voice, which illustrates again the promise and peril of presence-evoking technology; as Futurism’s coverage notes:

“Being able to completely change our voice, however, comes with a much darker side as well, not unlike the use of deepfakes. For instance, cloned voices could be used to commit fraud or bully others. …

Bottom line? It’s no longer just faces that can be turned into the likeness of celebrities. In fact, we’re already living in a future in which both our faces and voices can be transformed simultaneously on the fly — a terrifying or fascinating reality, depending on how you look at it.”

–Matthew]

Voicemod uses AI to transform your voice into Morgan Freeman, astronauts, and more

AI voices enters beta today

By Tom Warren
June 15, 2022

Voicemod, a popular real-time voice changer, is starting to use artificial intelligence to transform your voice into Morgan Freeman and other characters.… read more. “Voicemod software uses AI to transform your voice into Morgan Freeman, astronauts, and more”

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FDA clears augmented reality system to help navigate spine surgery

[The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has approved a new system for spinal surgery that “convert[s] imaging data into either a 2D or 3D immersive hologram” and superimposes the “navigation plan right on the patient’s body” during the operation. The details, and links to two other applications of presence-evoking technology in the operating room, are presented in this story from Fierce Biotech. See the Novarad press release for more information including a one-minute video (also on Vimeo). Another Fierce Biotech story reports on FDA approval of a Lensar system that incorporates augmented-reality imaging technology for cataract surgery. –Matthew]

FDA clears augmented reality system to help navigate spine surgery

By Andrea Park
June 16, 2022

Just as a driver uses a road map or GPS to navigate unfamiliar streets, so too can surgeons access surgical navigation systems to guide them through the unique plains of a patient’s anatomy.… read more. “FDA clears augmented reality system to help navigate spine surgery”

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Looking Glass Factory launches world’s largest holographic display

[Like most of the coverage of the recently announced largest-ever, 65-inch holographic display from Looking Glass Factory, this story from VentureBeat draws on the company’s press release (via PR Newswire), but it adds several interesting details. For more information on and examples of the technology see The Verge and the 12:08 minute video “Hands-On with Looking Glass 8K Holographic Display!” from Adam Savage’s Tested on YouTube. CNET‘s coverage highlights the many presence-evoking works being presented at Tribeca Immersive 2022, including several available from home. –Matthew]

[Image: Looking Glass CEO Shawn Frayne with holographic James Bond displayed on the Looking Glass 65-inch 3D display. Credit: Dean Takahashi]

Looking Glass Factory launches 65-inch holographic display

By Dean Takahashi
June 7, 2022

Looking Glass Factory has introduced what it calls the largest holographic display in the world: the Looking Glass 65-inch 3D display.… read more. “Looking Glass Factory launches world’s largest holographic display”

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