ISPR Presence News

Category Archives: Presence in the News

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

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VRScout begins with this: “Imagine walking into your local convenience store only to find the usual checkout person had been replaced by a remote-controlled robot operated in VR by a human being located hundreds of miles away”; see that story for more images and a 1:44 minute Telexistence video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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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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‘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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“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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Hide the tech to increase presence: Facebook Research reveals sunglasses-like VR displays

[To encourage more effective and compelling presence experiences it’s important to make the technology involved less apparent and intrusive. This story from Mashable describes new prototype technology developed by Facebook Research to do this for VR headsets. –Matthew]

Facebook reveals the future of VR headsets, and it’s more ‘CSI Miami’ than ‘Tron’

By Amanda Yeo
June 30, 2020

Immersing yourself in virtual reality can feel like a sci-fi fantasy come true, but bulky, cumbersome VR headsets almost make it more trouble than it’s worth. There have been various attempts to slim down VR headsets, such as Dlodlo’s lightweight V One headset and Panasonic’s prototype goggles shown at CES 2020. Now Facebook has revealed its own glasses-like prototype headset with a display measuring 8.9 mm thick — about the same thickness as a smartphone.

In a new research paper entitled “Holographic Optics for Thin and Lightweight Virtual Reality,” Facebook Reality Labs researchers Andrew Maimone and Junren Wang have proposed a VR headset design that replaces the refractive lens with holographic optics and polarization-based optical folding.… read more. “Hide the tech to increase presence: Facebook Research reveals sunglasses-like VR displays”

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Watch the first (commercial) videoconference, which took place 50 years ago

[A milestone in presence history took place 50 years ago, on June 30, 2020, as described in this story from Fast Company; see the original for two more pictures and the two videos mentioned. –Matthew]

Watch the first videoconference, which took place 50 years ago today

The Zoom of its time, AT&T’s Picturephone II went live on June 30, 1970, in Pittsburgh

June 30, 2020
By Harry Mccracken

In 1964, AT&T unveiled its Picturephone—a telephone with video as well as audio—at the New York World’s Fair and at Disneyland. It was an iconic moment for personal technology. But when the company then launched a commercial video-calling service, you had to go to one of three Picturephone stations in the U.S.—New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago—and pay at least $16 to make a three-minute call. So it was no shocker that this service didn’t exactly change the world.… read more. “Watch the first (commercial) videoconference, which took place 50 years ago”

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Holograms, VR and more are part of digital memorialization for a global age

[The use of a variety of technologies that evoke presence is changing the nature of both individual and collective memorialization, as described in this thought-provoking article from YaleGlobal by the editors of the new book Mass Violence and Memory in the Digital Age: Memorialization Unmoored. –Matthew]

[Image: Global grieving; New technologies help museums and individual gather evidence and relay history – Holocaust survivor Sam Harris answered hundreds of questions to help create a hologram; global movement Together We Remember relies on social media to act against hate. Source: Ron Gould Studios/Illinois Holocaust Museum and Together We Remember)]

Digital Memorialization for a Global Age

Holograms, virtual reality and other digital technologies expand collective memorialization and gathering of evidence to many more participants

Eve Zucker and David Simon [see author information below]
June 25, 2020

NEW HAVEN: Virtual sites of memorialization of mass atrocities, from web pages and blogs to social media, have proliferated this century.… read more. “Holograms, VR and more are part of digital memorialization for a global age”

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Google tech captures and streams immersive 3D 6DoF video over the internet

[UploadVR reports on a new Google video technology that provides a more immersive and realistic presence experience than other systems and can be streamed using currently available internet connections. TechCrunch provides a description of its capabilities:

“Google is showing off one of the most impressive efforts yet turning traditional photography and video into something more immersive: 3D video that lets the viewer change their perspective and even look around objects in frame. […]

The effect of high-definition video and freedom of movement gives these light field videos a real sense of reality. Existing VR-enhanced video generally uses fairly ordinary stereoscopic 3D, which doesn’t really allow for a change in viewpoint. And while Facebook’s method of understanding depth in photos and adding perspective to them is clever, it’s far more limited, creating only a small shift in perspective.

In Google’s videos, you can move your head a foot to the side to peek around a corner or see the other side of a given object — the image is photorealistic and full motion but in fact rendered in 3D, so even slight changes to the viewpoint are accurately reflected.… read more. “Google tech captures and streams immersive 3D 6DoF video over the internet”

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Ikea imagines home life post-COVID-19, and it’s wild

[Several of the innovative design concepts in the new Ikea project described in this story from Fast Company involve presence. Follow the links for much more information and many images and videos. –Matthew]

[Image: Source: designboom]

Ikea imagines home life post-COVID-19, and it’s wild

Ikea sees an opportunity to rethink the home

By Mark Wilson
June 25, 2020

If sheltering in place has taught us one thing, it’s that your home has to be more than a place to sleep. It’s where we live a lot of our lives—and even work and teach school—and so spending on indoor and outdoor furniture has gone through the roof.

In response to the COVID-19 era, Ikea and its innovation lab Space10 haven’t just put a bunch of bookshelves on sale. They’ve seized the moment to launch a series of radical home concepts called Everyday Experiments.… read more. “Ikea imagines home life post-COVID-19, and it’s wild”

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