ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

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

The potential of socially assistive robots during infectious disease outbreaks

[A new article in the journal Science Robotics discusses how home-based telepresence robots can help societies lessen the “secondary impacts” of a pandemic; this story from Inverse summarizes the article. Note that the initial definition of a telepresence robot is then implicitly broadened to include independent (AI-based) capabilities. For more information follow the link to the original article. –Matthew]

SOCIAL DISTANCING CAN BE LONELY, BUT ROBOTS CAN HELP

The robot revolution is coming, but not as you think.

Sarah Wells
July 16, 2020

With Covid-19 infection rates continuing to climb throughout the U.S., it’s safe to say that maintaining social distance — whether to return to work or to throwback cold ones with friends — has been a massive failure. But a new report published Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics, says that widespread use of telepresence robots could help solve that.… read more. “The potential of socially assistive robots during infectious disease outbreaks”

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Presence and inverse presence: VR tour of Sir Edumund Hillary’s Antarctica base launched by NZ PM

[This story from STUFF describes a new virtual tour that provides the public with a first-person experience of a distant heritage site and it also includes an interesting example of inverse presence, where an experience not mediated by technology is perceived as mediated. See the original story for 7 more images and a 41 second video. For more information, including a different 2:31 minute video, see the Antarctic Heritage Trust website. And for a 1:53 minute news report see 1 News. –Matthew]

[Image: Sir Edmund Hillary’s grandson Alexander Hillary with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Credit: Abigail Dougherty/STUFF]

Hillary’s Hut: Virtual reality tour of explorer’s Antarctica base launched by PM

Kendall Hutt
July 31 2020

Kiwis can now take a step back in time and explore Scott Base’s oldest building in Antarctica thanks to virtual reality.

It is hoped thousands will gain an insight into how the 23 men of Sir Edmund Hillary’s team lived and worked more than 60 years ago by exploring his hut.… read more. “Presence and inverse presence: VR tour of Sir Edumund Hillary’s Antarctica base launched by NZ PM”

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Art galleries and fairs are turning to virtual reality to connect with collectors

[This story from Artsy reports on how the pandemic has encouraged new uses of presence-evoking technologies for viewing and purchasing high-end art; see the original version of the story for 11 more images. –Matthew]

[Image: ArtLab, in software installation view of Ellen Gallagher’s DeLuxe, 2004-05, and Mark Bradford’s Chicago, 2019, created in HWVR. Credit: Copyright held by the artists. Courtesy of the artists and Hauser & Wirth.]

Galleries and Fairs Are Turning to Virtual Reality to Connect with Collectors

Justin Kamp
July 29, 2020

In the months since COVID-19 shut down most traditional in-person avenues for viewing and purchasing art, virtual reality (VR)—along with its associated forms of extended (XR) and alternate reality (AR)—has become increasingly prevalent not just as a medium for creation, but also as a tool for conducting business. The VR format is a new frontier for many of those involved, and the transition to virtual space has required art-world players to adapt to the challenges—and possibilities—that come with operating in a medium that is in many ways still largely unexplored.… read more. “Art galleries and fairs are turning to virtual reality to connect with collectors”

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WHO uses AI-based digital health worker Florence to help people quit smoking

[NZBusiness describes a promising application of technology that can create social presence with a virtual person to help people quit smoking (note there are links to two videos at the end). Co-founder and chief business officer of the New Zealand company that created the technology, Greg Cross, comments further in other coverage:

From NZHub:

“We would call Florence a digital person,” Greg Cross, co-founder of Soul Machines, told Morning Report.

“She’s a CGI creation just as we see in the movies, but what’s unique about Florence and other digital people like her is she is … autonomously animated by a digital brain. You’re having a face-to-face interaction with a digital person.

“One of the things we know from our day-to-day lives is we learn to build relationships, we learn to build trust, with face to face interactions.

“Florence and digital people go way beyond what chatbots and voice assistants can do in terms of emotional connection and emotional engagement with us.”

“The objective here is not to fool people that they’re talking to a real person, the objective here is to create a face-to-face interaction.”

The ‘digital brain’ allows Florence to interact and respond in real time, he said, such as recognising a smile and smiling back.… read more. “WHO uses AI-based digital health worker Florence to help people quit smoking”

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Roomality: Window and wall-sized virtual reality without goggles or headsets

[A modern version of wall murals (e.g., those sold by wall26), Roomality’s virtual windows and walls use 3D and AI to create a compelling presence illusion without obtrusive headsets or even glasses. This story is from The Irish Times, where it includes a 1:41 minute video (also available via YouTube) and two more images. For more information, including a second video (also on YouTube), see the company’s website. –Matthew]

Irish entrepreneur promises VR experience without goggles or headsets

John Moore’s Roomality is developing ‘virtual windows’ solution

By Charlie Taylor
July 21, 2020

Tech entrepreneur John Moore, who sold his former company 3D4Medical to publisher Elsevier in a $50.6 million (€44.2 million) deal last year, has invested about €500,000 in his latest venture Roomality, which is developing a “virtual windows” solution.

Mr Moore personally netted over €24 million from the sale of the award-winning 3D medical technology company in November and has wasted no time spending the proceeds.… read more. “Roomality: Window and wall-sized virtual reality without goggles or headsets”

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Promise and peril: Sonantic’s emotional AI voices

[This short piece from PC Gamer nicely captures both prospective benefits and significant concerns about a future saturated with presence experiences, focused in this case on a new AI-driven text-to-speech technology that creates compelling illusions. The original story includes the 4:25 minute video it describes, and the video is also available on YouTube and on Sonantic’s website. More information is in stories from Yahoo! News and The Times (the latter behind a subscriber firewall). –Matthew]

Oh good, someone invented the ‘first AI capable of crying’

A company has created a text-to-speech technology that doesn’t just read words, it simulates an acting performance.

By Christopher Livingston
May 14, 2020

Text-to-speech is a prolific and extremely useful technology, but it doesn’t burst into tears often enough while reading to you, does it? There’s a fix for that from Sonantic, a company that claims to have invented “the world’s first AI capable of crying.” Finally!… read more. “Promise and peril: Sonantic’s emotional AI voices”

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Adding virtual baseball (and other) audience members during a pandemic

[Social distancing requirements are leading producers of sports coverage – and many others – to get creative in simulating missing audience members. This story from Variety describes how Major League Baseball is addressing the issue with digital fans (see the original version for a 19 second video). SB Nation’s coverage (“The uncanny valley is full of Fox Sports’ virtual baseball fans”) characterizes it this way:

“In order to make the return of baseball feel more ‘alive’ on TV, Fox is adding full stadiums of virtual baseball fans that cheer and boo along with the action. It’s a means to make everything feel more normal, even during the wholly surreal pandemic era. Fox are by no means the first organization to try this, Cardboard cutouts have been used in Korea since baseball resumed, one soccer team used sex dolls and got fined for it.… read more. “Adding virtual baseball (and other) audience members during a pandemic”

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Thermal camera bracelet reads your wrist to track your fingers

[New Atlas reports on an innovative wearable design with several presence applications; the original story includes a 3:18 minute video (also available via YouTube) and more information is also available from Cornell University. The new paper includes this:

“Another interest[ing] application of FingerTrak in the future is to replace the glove or controller in [a] Virtual Reality setting, to free the hands in VR interaction. Moreover, FingerTrak can be used to control a robotic hand remotely and thus provide a novel means of human robot interaction where precise human hand manipulation is needed.” (p. 71:21)

–Matthew]

[Image: A digital model overlaid on a real hand, showing just how well the FingerTrak system can predict the positions of a wearer’s fingers. At the bottom right, a robot hand copies the wearer. Credit: Cheng Zhang]

Thermal camera bracelet reads your wrist to track your fingers

By Michael Irving
July 22, 2020

Capturing the complexities of the human hand is a difficult task – just ask any artist or animator.… read more. “Thermal camera bracelet reads your wrist to track your fingers”

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Inverse presence: Discovery reveals 2020 is a Holodeck program

[If you’re in the ISPR Presence Community Facebook group you saw this clever example of inverse presence a few days ago (along with several others lately); the story about it below is from Daily Star Trek News. CNET’s coverage adds this detail:

“A close-up of the fan-made holodeck interface screen says, ‘Early C21 Outdoor, Los Angeles City Park, Survival Mode, VELDT, Variation 7.’ According to [designer Arthur] Chadwick, VELDT is a nod to the short story called The Veldt by science fiction author and famous Los Angeles resident Ray Bradbury.”

Both stories include tweeted reactions and several more are in a story at commicbook.com. I find it interesting that some of the reactions, and the tone of the CNET story, express disappointment that 2020 isn’t a holodeck program – while it definitely has seemed dystopian, the revelation that we are living in a simulation would raise new, potentially more disturbing concerns (!).… read more. “Inverse presence: Discovery reveals 2020 is a Holodeck program”

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Eight360 Nova: A crazy, untethered, fully rollable VR motion platform

[This New Atlas story about Eight360’s impressive virtual reality platform includes lots of references to compelling presence experiences (without using the term); see the original version for more pictures and the video mentioned at the end, and see the company’s website for more coverage and videos. –Matthew]

Eight360 Nova: A crazy, untethered, fully rollable VR motion platform

By Loz Blain
April 23, 2020

By far the most extreme gaming and simulation platform we’ve seen, the Nova places you in a fully untethered ball that’s free to spin in any direction, creating all sorts of wild gravity effects for total immersion in a range of different vehicle types.

It’s the work of New Zealand startup Eight360, which has risen from true garage status to produce what Founder/CEO Terry Miller calls, “the crazy spinning ball of death.” Terry spoke to us from a birthing center in Wellington just one day after the birth of his first child.… read more. “Eight360 Nova: A crazy, untethered, fully rollable VR motion platform”

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