ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

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

Study: Presence mediates VR nature effects on positive mood and nature connectedness

[In these stressful times, the topic of this story from Medical News Today is particularly important. The story describes a new study that compared the positive effects of experiencing nature via TV, 360 video and VR, with interesting results regarding the role of presence. The full article is available without subscription from the Journal of Environmental Psychology. See also a related April 2020 ISPR Presence News post. –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Donald Iain Smith/Getty Images]

Virtual reality nature boosts positive mood

Watching nature on an ordinary television relieves boredom and negative emotions, according to a study. But interacting with nature in virtual reality (VR) leads to greater improvements in positive mood and nature connectedness.

Written by James Kingsland on October 21, 2020
Fact checked by Rita Ponce, Ph.D.

Many people say they notice the psychological benefits of reconnecting with nature during the COVID-19 pandemic — whether in their backyards, in public parks, or in the countryside.… read more. “Study: Presence mediates VR nature effects on positive mood and nature connectedness”

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‘Universal law of touch’ will enable new advances in virtual reality

[This Cosmos report describes more clearly than most press coverage what appears to be an important discovery that will lead to improved haptics in VR, and thereby improved presence. See the story from the University of Birmingham for more information and a 1:56 minute video (also available via YouTube). –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Sebastian Kopp / EyeEm, via Getty Images]

The science behind our sense of touch

There are some surprising similarities with earthquakes.

By Lauren Fuge, science journalist at The Royal Institution of Australia
13 October 2020

European researchers have developed a new universal scaling law for the sense of touch, and it’s paving the way for an expansion of virtual reality technology.

“Touch is a primordial sense, as important to our ancient ancestors as it is to modern-day mammals, but it’s also one of the most complex and therefore least understood,” says lead researcher Tom Montenegro-Johnson from the University of Birmingham, UK.… read more. “‘Universal law of touch’ will enable new advances in virtual reality”

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What keeps virtual reality stuck in the future?

[For the technology most associated with presence to become more than a niche product after so many years we need clear-eyed evaluations about the remaining barriers like this one in Polygon from a long-time user/observer. –Matthew]

The VR revolution has been 5 minutes away for 8 years

What keeps virtual reality stuck in the future?

By Ben Kuchera
October 20, 2020
[Part of the Polygon series “Imagining the Next Future”]

Virtual reality is either better than it has ever been, or at least a few years away from mainstream acceptance, depending on who you ask. Both points of view always seem to be true. That’s because VR has been five minutes away from some kind of breakthrough for about eight years.

Which points at one very hard truth: We’re much further away from VR headsets being just another appliance in the home than many in the industry would like to admit.… read more. “What keeps virtual reality stuck in the future?”

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Negative bias in virtual falls: How we discovered that VR can profile your personality

[The new study described in this story from The Conversation is interesting on its own but as the author notes, it brings into focus some of the ethical concerns raised by virtual reality and other immersive, ‘experiential’ media. See the original story for a 2:57 minute video. –Matthew]

[Image: View of the virtual environment from perspective of participant. Source: “Assessment of threat and negativity bias in virtual reality” by Christopher Baker, Ralph Pawling & Stephen Fairclough in Scientific Reports.]

How we discovered that VR can profile your personality

Stephen Fairclough
Professor of Psychophysiology in the School of Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University
October 15, 2020

Virtual reality (VR) has the power to take us out of our surroundings and transport us to far-off lands. From a quick round of golf, to fighting monsters or going for a skydive, all of this can be achieved from the comfort of your home.… read more. “Negative bias in virtual falls: How we discovered that VR can profile your personality”

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Tech Titans’ 5G Challenge winner creating stand-alone, life-like holograms of virtual teachers

[As reported in the press release below, Dr. Marjorie Zielke has won the Tech Titans’ 5G Challenge with a proposal to develop an Emergent Virtual Teacher Platform (EVTP); she and her team at the Center for Simulation and Synthetic Humans at the University of Texas at Dallas “see a future society of synthetic and real humans working together.” For information about Dr. Zielke’s 2020 NSF grant “to explore how augmented reality can help medical students prepare for interactions with real patients” see the UTD website; the UTD Office of Research website hosts a 52 minute video of a seminar by her about her work; and a 2010 ISPR Presence News post describes her work creating a first-person cultural trainer for soldiers. –Matthew]

[Image: Dr. Marjorie Zielke (seated second from right) and her team of researchers, artists, and developers at The Center for Simulation and Synthetic Humans at the University of Texas at Dallas.read more. “Tech Titans’ 5G Challenge winner creating stand-alone, life-like holograms of virtual teachers”

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US Army testing augmented reality goggles for dogs

[It’s not clear whether dogs wearing augmented reality goggles experience superimposed visual elements as part of their nonmediated reality but the project reported in this story from APG News suggests that both dog and human handler using the technology may experience spatial, and social, presence. The original story includes a second image. See also the August 2020 ISPR Presence News post “US Army robo-teammate can detect, share 3-D changes in real-time using AR.” –Matthew]

Augmented Reality Dog Goggles Could Help Protect Soldiers

By CCDC Army Research Laboratory
October 14, 2020

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Military working dogs often scout areas for explosive devices and hazardous materials and assist in rescue operations, but giving dogs the necessary commands to perform these missions can put Soldiers in harm’s way. Augmented reality may change that.

Through a project funded by the Small Business Innovation Research program and managed by the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S.… read more. “US Army testing augmented reality goggles for dogs”

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Amazon launches AR app that works with QR codes on its boxes

[Here’s a story from TechCrunch about Amazon’s new use of augmented reality, just in time for Halloween. See the original version for more pictures and a 38 second video (also available on YouTube), and a related ISPR Presence News post about Amazon’s “Distance Assistant” AR that helps warehouse workers stay socially distant. –Matthew]

Amazon launches an AR app that works with new QR codes on its boxes

Sarah Perez
October 12, 2020

Amazon has quietly launched a new augmented reality application that works with QR codes on the company’s shipping boxes to create “interactive, shareable” AR experiences. Called simply “Amazon Augmented Reality,” the retailer describes the app as a “fun way to reuse your Amazon boxes until you’re ready to drop them in the recycling bin.”

As shown in the App Store’s screenshots of the new app, different Amazon boxes will offer unique activities for the AR experience.… read more. “Amazon launches AR app that works with QR codes on its boxes”

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C-Face earphone tracks facial expressions, even with a face mask

[The invention described in this story from the Cornell Chronicle has clear potential to improve social presence during mediated communication, especially with the limitations imposed by the pandemic. For more details and demonstrations, see the 4:22 minute video in the original story (it’s also on YouTube). –Matthew]

[Image: Captured video of a user’s facial expression (left), with a 3D model predicted by C-Face.]

Earphone tracks facial expressions, even with a face mask

By Melanie Lefkowitz
October 12, 2020

Cornell researchers have invented an earphone that can continuously track full facial expressions by observing the contour of the cheeks – and can then translate expressions into emojis or silent speech commands.

With the ear-mounted device, called C-Face, users could express emotions to online collaborators without holding cameras in front of their faces – an especially useful communication tool as much of the world engages in remote work or learning.… read more. “C-Face earphone tracks facial expressions, even with a face mask”

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VR software allows researchers to ‘walk’ inside and analyze individual cells

[Researchers at Cambridge University collaborating with a 3D image analysis software company, have created software that lets users explore super-resolution microcopy data in virtual reality. This passage particularly struck me:

“Anoushka Handa – a PhD student from Lee’s group – used the software to image an immune cell taken from her own blood, and then stood inside her own cell in virtual reality. ‘It’s incredible – it gives you an entirely different perspective on your work,’ she said.”

For more information and a 5:07 minute walk-through video (also available via YouTube), see the LUME VR website. –Matthew]

[Image: DBScan analysis being performed on a mature neuron in a typical vLUME workspace. Credit: Alexandre Kitching]

Virtual reality software which allows researchers to ‘walk’ inside and analyse individual cells could be used to understand fundamental problems in biology and develop new treatments for disease.read more. “VR software allows researchers to ‘walk’ inside and analyze individual cells”

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Fox TV’s “neXt” explores AI gone wrong; network hires AI to write, edit and score trailer

[It’s often enlightening to see how various types of presence phenomena are dramatized in movies and television programs (e.g., the Telepresence in Media Environments project). A new 10-episode Fox TV event series that debuted last week is the latest example. The Chicago Sun-Times review below begins with the familiar example of a child speaking with (a fictional version of) Alexa that takes a creepy turn. For more information about the thinking behind the show see an interview with its creator from CBR.

In an intriguing related development, Fox hired a “tech-focused creative shop” to develop an AI that then created a trailer for the show; here’s an excerpt of coverage in Adweek (registration required), which also includes both the AI-created and a human-created trailer:

“To market its new series about an evil artificial intelligence creation threatening society, Fox commissioned a trailer created by—an actual AI.… read more. “Fox TV’s “neXt” explores AI gone wrong; network hires AI to write, edit and score trailer”

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