PRESENCE 2018 Conference Program

CONFERENCE PROGRAM (printer-friendly PDF)

17th conference of the International Society for Presence Research (ISPR)
Prague, Czech Republic
May 21-22, 2018 (optional demonstrations and guided sightseeing events May 20)

Conference theme: Challenges


PROGRAM OVERVIEW (Details follow below)

Sunday, May 20: Sightseeing! (Optional)

Presence 2018 conference plans include an optional group sightseeing trip around Prague on May 20th. The schedule will start at 10:30 am at St. Nicholas Church near Prague Castle.

Tentative Itinerary: St. Nicholas Church – Charles Bridge – Lunch – Clementinum (Guided Tour) – Astronomical clock tower – Havel Market (Market closes at 6:30)

Time Plan
09:30 am 10:00 am Meet at St. Nicholas Church
10:00 am 11:00 am Visit St. Nicholas Church
11:00 am – 11:30 pm Visit Lennon Wall
11:30 pm – 12:00 pm Walk across the Charles Bridge
12:00 pm – 01:45 pm Suggested places for lunch:  Lehká hlava – vegetariánská restaurace / Pub Atmoska (Atmosfera Café pub) / Good Food Coffee & Bakery
01:45 pm – 02:30 pm Clementinum – Guided Tour (45 minutes)
02:45 pm 04:15 pm Visit the astronomical clock tower and Old Town Square
04:30 pm Shopping at Havel Market

Map of sightseeing route

Monday, May 21: Main Conference Day 1

08:30 – 09:15 am Check-in and welcome message
09:15 – 10:30 am Session 1: Presence Theory and Measurement
10:30 – 11:45 am Session 2: Presence and Avatars
11:45 am – 01:30 pm Lunch in the hotel – included in registration* 
01:30 – 02:45 pm Panel Discussion 1: Using the Senses to Make Sense: From Aesthetics to Ethics
02:45 – 03:00 pm Coffee break
03:00 – 04:15 pm Session 3: Past, Presence, and Future
04:15 – 05:30 pm Panel Discussion 2: Presence in Practice: A Discussion about Presence via Telepresence Tech (WebEx)
05:30 – 08:00 pm Dinner at Plzenskarestaurace – included in registration*

Tuesday, May 22: Main Conference Day 2

09:00 – 10:15 am Session 4: Social Presence, AI, and Gaming
10:15 – 11:00 am Session 5 (Poster): Challenges of New Approaches in Presence Studies
11:00 am – 12:15 pm Panel Discussion 3: New Ideas for Spatial and Social Cues
12:15 – 01:45 pm Lunch at U Pinkasu – included in registration*
01:45 – 03:00 pm Session 6: Big Ideas about Presence
03:00 – 03:15 pm Coffee break
03:15 – 04:15 pm Panel Discussion 4: Presence Challenges
04:15 – 04:30 pm Closing
After 4:30 pm Dinner – not included in registration



Sunday, May 20: Sightseeing!

Tentative Itinerary: St. Nicholas Church – Charles Bridge – Lunch – Clementinum (Guided Tour) – Astronomical clock tower – Havel Market (Market closes at 6:30)

Presence 2018 conference plans include an optional group sightseeing trip around Prague on May 20th. The schedule will start at 10:30 am at St. Nicholas Church near Prague Castle. We are going to visit St. Nicholas Church, Charles bridge, Clementinum, Astronomical clock tower, and Havel market.

Meeting Location: St. Nicholas Church

Overview of the plan with the map

Time Plan
09:30 am 10:00 am Meet at St. Nicholas Church
10:00 am 11:00 am Visit St. Nicholas Church
 11:00 am – 11:30 pm Visit Lennon Wall
11:30 pm – 12:00 pm Walk across the Charles Bridge
12:00 pm – 01:45 pm Suggested places for lunch
01:45 pm – 02:30 pm Clementinum – Guided Tour (45 minutes)
02:45 pm 04:15 pm Visit the astronomical clock tower and Old Town Square
04:30 pm Shopping at Havel Market

Suggested places for lunch

  • Lehká hlava – vegetariánská restaurace: It is conveniently located from the spot where we walk across the Charles Bridge. Vegetarian friendly, the main dish costs from 200 czk to 300 Czk (about $10 to $15)
  • Pub Atmoska (Atmosfera café pub): Wide range of food options from pasta to sandwich, and other local menu. Price range is between 159 CZK (about $8) to 600 CZK ($30, large platter)
  • Good Food Coffee & Bakery: Famous for its chimney cake. Chimney sandwich is a good choice for the lunch *Vegetarian option available. Price from 60 CZK (about $3, for original/plain chimney cake) to 120 CZK ($6)

Descriptions of places

  • Nicholas Church: The beautiful St. Nicholas Church at the Old Town Square was completed in 1735, and replaced a parish church mentioned in records dating back to 1273. St. Nicholas is a Baroque church, the interior of which was inspired by the chapel of St. Louis-des-invalides in Paris. The delicate stucco decoration was executed by Bernardo Spinetti, and the frescos by Peter Adam the Elder. The sculptures are by Antonín Braun. In 1781 the decoration inside St. Nicholas was removed after emperor Josef II ordered the closure of all monasteries without a social function. In 1870, St. Nicholas then became Russian Orthodox. During the second World War Czech army units stationed at St. Nicholas were set to work restoring the church, working alongside professional artists. Much of what we see today is thanks to their meticulous efforts. After the war, St. Nicholas was handed over to the Czech Hussite movement, with whom it remains. Interestingly, it wasn’t until 1901, when the Krenn House in front of it was demolished, that St. Nicholas’s stunning façade became visible to the rest of the Old Town Square. St. Nicholas serves both as church and as a magnificent venue for classical concerts. During the winter the interior of the church is heated, but it is advisable to wear warm clothing for the concerts. (Source:
  • Lennon Wall: The John Lennon wall was a symbol of freedom and rebellion against the communist regime in the 1980´s. It is situated right across the beautiful building of French Embassy near Kampa. On the death of John Lennon, youths of Prague decided to have a symbolic burial place for a man they admired for his fight for equality and peace and freedom for all. The site of this burial place became the John Lennon wall. Youths expressed their grievances with the regime by writing them on the wall in the dead of night as they faced a prison sentence on being caught. These days nothing of the original messages and graffiti remain after a reconstruction by the owners of the wall, the Knights of the Maltese Cross, but it still remains a strong symbol of the fight against oppression and freedom of speech. The wall has again over time become covered with grafitti in the spirit of love, peace and freedom and is a huge attraction for visitors to Prague. (Source:
  • Charles Bridge: Commissioned by King Charles IV in 1357, Prague’s most stunning bridge spans 16 arches and is lined with 30 Baroque statues of religious figures. The bridge’s 1,700 ft. (520 m) of cobblestone are used for wholly temporal purposes, however. Each afternoon, painters and hot-dog vendors fight for space with — and custom from — the hordes of tourists who are themselves elbowing one another for the best views of the Vltava River. If you arrive at dawn, you’ll beat the crowds and enjoy a glorious sunrise. (Source:
  • Clementinum: The extensive grounds of the Clementinum, one of the largest building complexes in Europe, were built from the mid-16th century to the mid-18th century, originally as a Jesuit dormitory. In its Astronomical Tower, meteorological measurements have been collected since 1775. The most beautiful hall of the complex is the Baroque Library with beautiful frescoes and historically valuable globes. The Mirror Chapel with its richly designed interior and unique installation of mirrors is a place where classical music concerts take place regularly. (Source: NOTE: There is an additional fee for guided tour. 300 czk for basic, 200 czk for students and seniors, and 900 czk for a family. They also take reservation for group tour.
  • Astronomical Clock Tower/ Old Town Square: The Old Town Hall is one of the most significant monuments in the Czech Republic. It was established in 1338 as the administrative seat for Prague’s Old Town. Now, it is mainly used for the ceremonial purposes of the capital city, Prague. The historical town hall consists of a set of five medieval houses, the corner of which is adorned with a historical astronomical clock, a gothic oriel window and a massive rectangular tower. The lookout gallery on the town hall tower offers the most beautiful view of Prague. A tour of the historical halls in the Old Town Hall is a unique experience. The expensively decorated rooms date from various periods and are examples of the remarkable development of the town hall complex. The guided tours in various languages are organized in hourly intervals. (Source: Where to visit in the Old Town Square: The powder tower, Kafka House, The Church of Our Lady before Tyn, Municipal House, & Jewish Quarter.


Monday, May 21: Main Conference Day 1

Session 1: Presence Theory and Measurement
09:15 – 10:30 am

Presence measurement revisited: Developing presence scales from self-reports and behavioral observations using the Rasch model
Antal Hanns and Wijnand Ijsselsteijn, Eindhoven University of Technology

Dimensions of congruity in immersive virtual environments: A framework for the schematic processing of multimodal sensory cues
Tiernan Cahill, Boston University

EMPATHY: A conceptual framework for the design of enriched experiences
Nelma Albuquerque, Concepts and Insights

The usage of presence measures in research: A review
Dimitri Hein, Christian Mai, and Heinrich Hussmann, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich


Session 2: Presence and Avatar
10:30 – 11:45 am

Effects of avatar personalization on presence and promoting physical activity
Shuo Zhou, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Considering talk and emotion when creating and deploying realistic 3D avatars
Steve Jones, University of Illinois at Chicago, & Gordon Carlson, Fort Hays State University

Personalized avatars and self-presence
Yilu Sun, Swati Pandita, Omar Shaikh, Byungdoo Kim, and Andrea Stevenson Won, Cornell University

Joint avatar control in virtual reality and its effects on self and social presence
Mengjia Guo, Xinhe Lian, and Andrea Stevenson Won, Cornell University


Panel Discussion 1: Using the Senses to Make sense: From Aesthetics to Ethics
01:30 – 02:45 pm

Immersive multimodal media increasingly offer virtually realistic experiences, which can be harnessed for a wide variety of industrial, medical/psychological and recreational purposes. With special attention to notions of “reality” being a perceived and experienced world informed by our senses and actions across the lifespan, we review the fundamental scientific evolution of this multidisciplinary field. Using neuroscientific principles, we debate inherent value added and challenges of differing paradigms to consider in future health-care and educational endeavours.

Henry J. Moller1,2,3,4 , Mark Chignell 1,2, Demi Kandylis5, John A, Waterworth6

1 University of Toronto, Dept of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
2 University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine
3 University of Toronto, Knowledge Media Design Institute
4 University of Toronto, Music and Health Research Collaboratory
5 Ontario College of Art and Design University (Toronto, Canada), Digital Futures Initiative
6 Umeå University, (Umeå, Sweden), Dept of Informatics


Session 3: Past, Presence, and Future
03:00 – 04:15 pm

From Edwardian selfie to telepresent comic
Paul Sermon, University of Brighton

The future of presence: Millennials predict the future of human communication through the lens of social presence theory
Aditi Paul, Pace University

Implications of presence portrayals in popular culture: Challenges for the future of technology and humanity
Matthew Lombard, Melissa Selverian, Emil Steiner, Kun Xu, and Hocheol Yang, Temple University

Augmented versus virtual reality in education: An exploratory study examining science knowledge retention when using AR/VR mobile applications
Kuo-Ting Huang, Christopher Ball, Jessica Francis, Rabindra Ratan, Josephine Boumis, and Joseph Fordham, Michigan State University


Panel Discussion 2: Presence in Practice A discussion about presence via telepresence tech (WebEx):
04:15 – 05:30 pm

We often joke about how as telepresence scholars we have to travel around the world – with great financial cost, physical and emotional strain, lost time, and damage to the environment – to discuss technologies designed to allow people to avoid having to travel to meet face-to-face. We also take for granted that meeting in person precludes the participation of those who aren’t able to join us in person. This unique panel discussion is designed to consider the current status and future potential of visual collaboration technologies while actually using telepresence technology to include some of our colleagues who can’t be in Prague with us. An invitation to participate in the discussion via WebEx ( will be distributed to presence scholars across the globe and at the appointed time the assembled and remotely present participants will informally discuss a series of questions including: To what degree are we able to experience social and spatial presence? What are the primary obstacles – in technology, psychology and context – to experiencing sustained presence? Which obstacles are most significant and when if ever can we expect to overcome them? Is a fully “virtual” academic conference possible? If so, when can we reasonably expect this to happen? And if so, would the benefits necessarily outweigh the drawbacks?


Tuesday, May 22: Main Conference Day 2

Session 4: Social presence, AI, and Gaming
09:00 – 10:15 am

Technological predictors of social presence: A foundation for a meta-analytic review and empirical concept explication
James Cummings and Blake Wertz, Boston University

Social presence in Human-AI interaction: A proposal for non-anthropocentric social presence
Bingjie Liu, Penn State University

The bodily presence in location-based mobile games
Konstantin Glazkov, NRU Higher School of Economics

Action speaks louder than words: A preliminary study of users’ social responses to robots’ movements and voices
Kun Xu, Temple University


Session 5 (Poster): Challenges of New approaches in Presence Studies
10:15 – 11:00 am

Experimental and phenomenological approach to delays effects on the sense of presence during a social interaction
Gaëlle Garibaldi, Gunnar Declerck, Charles Lenay, and Dominique Aubert, CRED team, COSTECH laboratory – Université de Technologie de Compiègne

Realistic avatar in a violent video game enhances physical aggression in a violent video game
Gyoung Kim, Syracuse University, Daeyoung Lee, Konkuk University, and Frank Biocca, Syracuse University

This is your brain on VR: Designing a VR/fNIRS device.
Makana Chock, Hirshfield Leanne, Mark R. Costa, Se Jung Kim, Jun Zhang, Gyoung Mo Kim, Noah K. Buntain, Sung Yoon Ri, Shengjie Yao, and Daniel R. Pacheco, Syracuse University


Panel Discussion 3: New Ideas for Spatial and Social Cues
11:00 am – 12:15 pm

Many media technologies are designed to reflect human characteristics. For example, some robots are designed to have a human shape and humanlike movements. To evoke users’ medium-as-social-actor presence (i.e., perceiving a medium itself as a social entity) and corresponding social responses to these media technologies, innovators design social cues into the technologies, including facial expressions, eye gaze, handshakes, and abstract human characteristics such as reliability, lifespan, and identity. At the same time cues are critical to social presence with remotely located humans, avatars, game-generated characters and parasocial interaction, as well as spatial presence. This panel considers the role that these cues play in evoking presence.

First Professor Lombard will introduce some vivid examples of medium-as-social-actor presence, beginning with clocks. Then Kun Xu will join in conversation with Professor Lombard on how the social cues of these examples trigger ideas about expanding the Computers are Social Actors (CASA) paradigm to the Media are Social Actors (MASA) paradigm. Hocheol Yang will discuss the case of a hitchhiking robot that was destroyed in Philadelphia during its global journey and how the case reflects people’s attitudes toward robots and the cues they present to those who encounter them. Professor Cummings will expand the discussion to include his insights regarding the importance and roles of cues in the spatial and social dimensions of presence experiences. Finally, all of the attendees will be invited to join in the conversation.


Session 6: Big Ideas about Presence
01:45 – 03:00 pm

Presence and human development: Age-specific variations in presence and their implications for the design of life enhancing interactive applications
John Waterworth, Umeå University, Mark Chignell, Henry Moller, University of Toronto,  & Demi Kandylis, Ontario College of Art and Design

More than a game? Presence and attitudes about virtual reality
Laura Canuelas-Torres and Makana Chock, Syracuse University

Sexual presence as a symptom of the post-human
Patrice Renaud, UQO/IPPM

Presence and eudaimonic appreciation in interactive narrative
Kenneth Chen and Stefan Rank, Drexel University


Panel Discussion 4: Presence Challenges
03:15 – 04:15 pm

This final panel is a summing up of the conference and a look ahead to the future of presence. The attendees will work together to formally identify, informally discuss, and prioritize some of the varied challenges that face those who theorize about, conduct research on, design, and participate in presence experiences. Questions to address in the process include: What do we most need to understand about how presence “works”? Is a “grand theory” of presence necessary and possible? Do we have adequate tools to measure presence experiences? Do we need more studies of presence “in the field” instead of the laboratory? How can scholars best develop practical advice for those who design (and market) presence-evoking technologies? What characteristics of presence-evoking technology need to be improved most? What new uses or applications of presence should we pursue? What can and should be done to ensure that presence is used ethically? How should we use, and not use, presence in our daily lives?



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