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Sep 30, 2005

Immersion and Virtual Reality @ Interfaces Montréal

TUESDAY, 4th October 2005 Interface [s] Montréal 5:30pm

Immersion and Virtual Reality] Beyond reality and interactive reality experience

From aerospace to surgery, and in all things game related, the simulators and immersion environments developed to serve humankind are indispensable tools that significantly improve human knowledge and enhance our reality experience.

Speakers: Yves Gonthier - Canadian Space Agency; Jean-Claude Artonne - Immervision; Jocelyn Faubert - Université de Montréal, École d'optométrie; Carl-Éric Aubin - École Polytechnique de Montréal, Dép. génie mécanique & CHU Sainte-Justine; Luc Courchesne - Université de Montréal et Ideaction.

[Yves Gonthier]: A Real-Time Simulator for 3D Mental Image Reconstruction On-Board the International Space Station

[Jean-Claude Artonne] Immervision: Panoramic technologies in everyday applications

[Jocelyn Faubert] : Understanding human behavior with immersive virtual environments

[Carl-Éric Aubin] Surgical Simulator for the Virtual Prototyping of the Surgical Instrumentation of the Scoliotic Spine

[Luc Courchesne] Panoscope 360°


Sep 29, 2005

Virtual reality helps stroke patients learn to drive again

Sept. 27 issue of Neurology reports results of a study, which has investigated the effect of simulator-based training on driving after stroke. The research has involved 83 subacute stroke patients randomly assigned to either simulator-based training or control group. Then, all patients were evaluated in off-road and on-road performance tests to assess their driving ability after training. Results showed that virtual reality training improved driving ability, especially for well educated and less disabled stroke patients. However, authors warn that findings of the study may have been modified as a result of the large number of dropouts and the possibility of some neurologic recovery unrelated to training.

More to explore

A. E. Akinwuntan, W. De Weerdt, H. Feys, J. Pauwels, G. Baten, P. Arno, and C. Kiekens Effect of simulator training on driving after stroke: A randomized controlled trial, Neurology 2005 65: 843-850

Sung H. You, et al., Virtual Reality–Induced Cortical Reorganization and Associated Locomotor Recovery in Chronic Stroke: An Experimenter-Blind Randomized Study, Stroke, Jun 2005; 36: 1166 - 1171.

Sveistrup, H. Motor rehabilitation using virtual reality, Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2004, 1:10 (download full text)

Sep 28, 2005

The singularity is near

The central thesis of Ray Kurzweil's new book titled The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology is that human evolution will soon be irreversibly transformed by information technology.

Here is a quote from a New Scientist article that sums up Kurzweil's projections:

"Ultimately, we will merge with our technology. This will begin with nanobots in our bodies and brains. The nanobots will keep us healthy, provide full-immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system, provide direct brain-to-brain communication over the internet and greatly expand human intelligence. But keep in mind that non-biological intelligence is doubling in capability each year, whereas our biological intelligence is essentially fixed. As we get to the 2030s, the non-biological portion of our intelligence will predominate. By the mid 2040s, the non-biological portion of our intelligence will be billions of times more capable than the biological portion. Non-biological intelligence will have access to its own design and will be able to improve itself in an increasingly rapid redesign cycle."

Via smart mobs

Sep 24, 2005

Open-Source Context-Aware Experience Sampling Tool

Ambient Intelligence (AmI) systems can be viewed as environments in which people will increasingly live their lives. Ubiquitous AmI technologies and systems like personal digital assistants, wearable sensors, mobile phones challenge traditional usability evaluation methods, because use context can be difficult to recreate in a laboratory setting. This view suggests that the evaluation of user’s experience with AmI systems should take place in realistic contexts, such the workplace, the home, etc. Another issue has to do with the content of the evaluation. Performance-based approaches are not suitable for AmI systems, because it is difficult to specify tasks that capture the complexity of real world activities. Moreover, experience is idiosyncratic, in that it is related to the specific bio-cultural configuration of each individual, and it can undergo changes throughout individual life and daily situations.

The Experience Sampling Method (ESM) offers a new perspective in the analysis of these issues. ESM is based on the online repeated assessment of individual behavior and experience in the daily context. Participants describe themselves and their environment while interacting with it. They carry with them for one week an electronic beeper and a booklet of self-report forms. Whenever they receive an acoustic signal, they are expected to fill out a form. The form contains open-ended questions about situational variables such as place, activities carried out, social context, and subjective variables such as the content of thought, perceived goals, and physical conditions. The form also contains 0-12 Likert-type scales investigating the quality of experience in its various components: affect, motivation, activation, and cognitive efficiency.

Intille and colleagues at MIT have recently developed a Personal Digital Assistant-based version of the ESM which can be used for user-interface development and assessment of ubiquitous computing applications. This approach, called Context-Aware Experience Sampling, includes the possibility to assess user’s experience not only through the standard time-based protocol, but also according to the participant’s location, by means of information provided by a GPS plug-in. Thus, researchers can design experiments collecting self-reports only when the participant is near a location of interest. Moreover, users can answers via audio recording or by taking a picture with a camera.

More to explore

S. S. Intille, J. Rondoni, C. Kukla, I. Ancona, L. Bao, A context-aware experience sampling tool, CHI Extended Abstracts 2003, 972-973.

Gaggioli, A., Optimal Experience in Ambient Intelligence (2005), in Ambient Intelligence, Riva, G., Vatalaro, F., Davide, F., Alcañiz, M. (Eds.), Amsterdam: IOS Press. PDF

Sep 23, 2005

Scientific American Mind

The new edition of Scientific American Mind



Smarter on Drugs
By Michael S. Gazzaniga

We recoil at the idea of people taking drugs to enhance their intelligence. But why?

The Movie in Your Head
By Christof Koch

Is consciousness a seamless experience or a string of fleeting images, like frames of a movie? The emerging answer will determine whether the "real world" is merely an illusion

Big Answers from Little People
By David Dobbs

In infants, Elizabeth Spelke finds fundamental insights into how men and women think

Custody Disputed
By Robert E. Emery, Randy K. Otto and William O'Donohue

The guidelines judges and psychologists use to decide child custody cases have little basis in science. The system must be rebuilt on better data

Judging Amy and Andy
By Katja Gaschler

Contrary to warnings, we can size up people pretty well based on first impressions

Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes
By Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Edward M. Hubbard

People with synesthesia--whose senses blend together--are providing valuable clues to understanding the organization and functions of the human brain

The Psychology of Tyranny

By S. Alexander Haslam and Stephen D. Reicher

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely--or does it?

Mending the Spinal Cord
By Ulrich Kraft

Researchers are finding ways to help nerves regenerate, and hope for therapies is growin

Just a Bit Different
By Ingelore Moeller

With special training early in life, children born with Down syndrome have a higher chance of becoming independent

Media Fabrics

Interactive Cinema - Media Fabrics is a research initiative at MIT that focuses on a new paradigm: the "media fabric" - a semi-intelligent organism where lines of communication, threads of meaning, chains of causality, and streams of consciousness converge and intertwine to form a rich tapestry of creative story potentials, meaningful real-time dialogues, social interactions, and personal or communal art- and story-making.

More to explore

The Media Fabrics website

The Virtusphere

Via Engadget

VirtuSphere is a 360-degree VR environment that allows for moving in any direction. The device consists of a large hollow sphere, placed on a special platform that allows the sphere to rotate in any direction as the user moves within it. Sensors under the sphere provide subject speed and direction to the computer running the simulation and users can interact with virtual objects using a special manipulator.

According to Virtusphere staff, the device has several potential applications in the field of training/simulations, health/rehabilitation, gaming and more. The device cost should range between $50K and $100K.


More to explore


Holo-Dek: A Unique Real-World Virtual Venue

CirculaFloor - Smart Tile Holodeck?

Sep 22, 2005

Neuroprotection in Neurological Diseases Conference

Neuroprotection in Neurological Diseases - A Promising Therapeutic Strategy or Chimera?

24-26 November 2005
Giardini Naxos (Taormina), Sicily


Achieving proven Neuroprotection remains an unattained goal; however strategies exist which may delay disease progression in chronic conditions and which show promise of damage limitation in the acute setting. The conference will discuss best treatment practice, present new research and debate issues surrounding Neuronal Plasticity and Neuroprotection.

The draft programme is available at www.sinspn.org

Sep 21, 2005


Via dataisnature

BrainMirror is an interactive experience where the image of the visitors brain appears mixed with his/her mirror image, using natural head movement as an interface to explore volumetric visuals of the human brain. How it works? a motion tracker computer watches the audience through four fire-wire cameras equipped with infra-red filters. The helmets are mounted with super-bright infra-red LED's, each modulating it's brightness with it's own unique finger-print id-code.

Download video (32Mb Quicktime)

15:41 Posted in Cyberart | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: Positive Technology

Sep 19, 2005

Between the physical and the virtual

via Pasta & Vinegar

The International Journal of Design Computing has a special Issue on the Space Between the Physical and the Virtual:

This special issue contains research which navigates the territory between the real and virtual world through metaphor, cognitive model, data stream and a designer’s synergy. (…) In this volume of IJDC we attempted to solicit and select papers that explore that overlapping boundary between the physical and the virtual. In particular, we looked for research that contemplated the role of the subject user versus the machine automaton. The first paper from Maher, Gero, Smith, and Gu’s utilizes agents that sense their environment and react accordingly. What is of particular interest is in how those artificial agents responded to users who inhabit their world. The Heylighen and Segers’ DYNAMO articleBermudez cyberPRINT, a dancer interacts with the virtual manifestation of his physiological data. The performance aims to closely couple the human physical condition and the virtual condition such that, eventually, the boundaries between them are blurred. The article from Fischer and Fischer appropriates a morphogenetic biologic model to digital form finding. The human, in this case acts as a director shaping and nudging largely independent virtual actors. It is in the lack of complete control that we find such systems intriguing...

The added value of eHealth

The International EHTEL conference titled Improving Care for Chronic Conditions - the added value of eHealth will take place in Rome, 10-11 October 2005, jointly organised by EHTEL, the National Research Council of Italy, Institute for Biomedical Technology in co-operation with ESQH and NIZW.

Keynotes of internationally recognised experts and contributions selected by an international Program Committee will be complemented by stakeholder views and open round table panels.

Collective intelligence - The Transitioner

Down through the media, overhead machineries will make us hear the voice of the multiple. Still indiscernible, soften by the hazes of the future, flooding another humanity with its murmur, we have an appointment with the surlanguage

Pierre Lévy – "Collective Intelligence"

The Transitioner.org is wiki which brings together those who want to marry the economy and Collective Intelligence in order to build a fair world.

Discover here if you are a transitioner (I discovered I am)

More to explore

Blog of Collective Intelligence

Improving the efficiency of social ecosystems

Collective intelligence in social insects

Complex systems lab

Video games promoted as effective health-care training

Games for Health is a project produced by Serious Games Initiative to promote best practices, community building, and research into how cutting-edge game design and development methodologies can aid in the creation of health tools that range from direct patient application, to personal health education, and workforce initiatives.

Examples of these applications include the following:

- Dance Dance Revolution: The popular dance game from Konami features an exercise mode. You set goals and play while it reports calorie burn from game sessions.
- In The Netherlands, VSTEP (Virtual Safety Training and Education Platform) has enjoyed success developing 3-D simulations for low-cost PC hardware. The "virtual experiences" are used for training oil-rig workers, emergency services, port authorities, hospital staff and military.
- Cardiac Arrest: A computer adventure game that simulates the diagnosis and treatment procedures for people suffering from various forms of cardiac arrest.
- VR Phobia: The Virtual Reality Medical Center has modified commercial games to create effective treatments for patients suffering from common phobias, including fear of flying, spiders, heights, and driving.

More to explore:

The “Serious Games Summit” is being held October 31st - November 1st, 2005, in Washington D.C. Areas of discussion range from the military and government, to health and education.

“Games For Health 2005″, September 22-23, 2005, Baltimore, Maryland.

11:55 Posted in Serious games | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: serious gaming

Sep 17, 2005

View of cell-phone activity in Graz

via Future Feeder

Digital Derive is a platform developed senseable city lab that allows to visualize the volume & geographic source of cell phone usage in Graz, showing a visual conceptual layer in the use & experience of the city.

From the lab web site:

Digital Derive harnesses the potential of mobile phones as an affordable, ready-made and ubiquitous medium that allows the city to be sensed and displayed in real-time as a complex, pulsating entity. Because it is possible to simultaneously 'ping' the cell phones of thousands of users - thereby establishing their precise location in space at a given moment in time - these devices can be used as a highly dynamic tracking tool that describes how the city is used and transformed by its citizens. The polis is thus interpreted as a shifting entity formed by webs of human interactions in space-time, rather than simply as a fixed, physical environment. Digital Derive provides a platform upon which the contemporary city can register the flux and traces its self-constructing and open-ended nature. Previous initiatives, notably Laura Kurgan's 'You Are Here: Museu' (1996) and the Waag Society's 'Amsterdam Real-Time' (2002) initiated this process by exploring the qualities and potential of GPS technology. Digital Derive builds on an expands these efforts by using cell phone technology, for the first time, to radically increase the interactive capacity and number of users involved in the mapping of the city. Digital Derive (re)presents the city displayed simultaneously in the Kunsthaus Graz and in a publicly accessible website.

Sep 16, 2005

Non-invasive neural interface technology

Via Engadget (thanks to Giuseppe Riva)

NeuroSky Inc. claims to have developed a non-invasive neural sensor and signal processing technology that converts brainwaves and eye movements into electronic signals to control a range of electronic devices.

According to Neurosky, neural interface technology promises to simplify cell phone-based applications that today require error-prone human input, as well as revolutionize applications from gaming to medical diagnostics and therapy.

EETimes reports that five companies, including a Bluetooth headset provider, game console maker and trucking company, have signed up to market end-user products containing NeuroSky's chips.


From the company website:

NeuroSky, a fabless semiconductor/module company, has developed a non-invasive neural sensor and signal processing technology that converts brainwaves and eye movements into useful electronic signals to communicate with a wide range of electronic devices, consoles, and computers. While brainwaves have been used as a form of diagnostics and therapy in neurosciences for years, the related technology has never reached a large audience due to price/size constraints, inconvenient physical limitations, and/or invasive surgical procedures. NeuroSky draws from this research and adapts it to commercialize neural interface technologies for various attractive global markets.

More to explore

Neural interface

Brain-computer interface

Sep 15, 2005

ICare Haptic Interface for the blind

Via the Presence-L Listserv

(from the iCare project web site)

iCare Haptic Interface will allow individuals who are blind to explore objects using their hands. Their hand movements will be captured through the Datagloves and spatial features of the object will be captured through the video cameras. The system will find correlations between spatial features, hand movements and haptic sensations for a given object. In the test phase, when the object is detected by the camera, the system will inform the user of the presence of the object by generating characteristic haptic feedback. I Care Haptic Interface will be an interactive display where users can seek information from the system, manipulate virtual objects to actively explore them and recognize the objects.

More to explore

The Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing

Mind & Life XIII

The Mind & Life Institute presents: MIND & LIFE XIII Co-hosted by Georgetown University Medical Center and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The Dalai Lama will participate fully in all sessions.

Investigating the Mind 2005

The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation DAR Constitution Hall, Washington DC November 8 - 10, 2005 Jointly sponsored by The Mind & Life Institute and CME-accredited by Georgetown University Hospital. The conference builds on the growing interest in meditation within modern medicine and biomedical science that has arisen over the past thirty years and further explores the emerging clinical opportunities.

Conference Sessions

1. Meditation-Based Clinical Interventions: Science, Practice, and Implementation
2. Possible Biological Substrates of Meditation
3. Clinical Research I: Meditation and Mental Health
4. Clinical Research II: Meditation and Physical Health
5. Integration & Final Reflections


Ajahn Amaro, B.Sc. — Abhayagiri Monastery
Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D. — University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. — U. of Mass. Medical School, Emeritus
Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D. — Princeton University
Helen S. Mayberg, M.D. — Emory University
Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D. — Stanford University
Zindel V. Segal, Ph.D. — University of Toronto
David S. Sheps, M.D. — University of Florida
John F. Sheridan, Ph.D. — Ohio State University
Wolf Singer, M.D., Ph.D. — Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung
Ralph Snyderman, M.D. — Duke University Medical Center


Jan Chozen Bays, M.D. — Great Vow Zen Monastery
Joan Halifax, Ph.D. — Upaya Zen Center
Father Thomas Keating, OCSO — St. Benedict's Monastery
Margaret E. Kemeny, Ph.D. — University of California-SF
Jack Kornfield, Ph.D. — Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Matthieu Ricard, Ph.D. — Shechen Monastery
Sharon Salzberg, R.N. — Insight Meditation Society
Bennett M. Shapiro, M.D. — Merck Research Laboratories, Emeritus
Esther M. Sternberg, M.D. — National Institute of Mental Health
John D. Teasdale, Ph.D. — MRC Cog. & Brain Sci. Unit, Emeritus
B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D. — Santa Barbara Institute

Mind and Life Dialogues

Mind and Life Institute XIII is the latest in a series of dialogues between scientists, the Dalai Lama, and other Buddhist contemplatives on areas of mutual interest at the intersection of western empirical science and the contemplative traditions and their associated methodologies, psychologies, and philosophies. Prior to 2003, all of these meetings have been held in private; however books describing them have been published and are widely available. Investigating the Mind 2005: The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation is the second Mind and Life Dialogue that will be open to a large audience, consisting primarily of people working in the fields of medicine, clinical psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience, as well as students in these fields.

Sep 14, 2005

The Stress Eraser

Via Medgadget

The Stress Eraser from Helicor claims to reduce cronic stress. Designed by Frog design, Stress Eraser is a standalone device that induces relaxation through breathing exercises programmed in.

I prefer a glass of wine, but the design is nice-looking

Sep 12, 2005

Social Networks as Health Feedback Displays

In this paper published on September/October issue of IEEE Pervasive Computing Journal Margaret E. Morris describes how social-networking and pervasive computing technologies can be used to help reduce feelings of social isolation and depression in elderly individuals. In this approach, sensor data measuring phone calls and visits are used to derive public displays of social interactions with relatives and friends, which they introduced into select elders’ homes. According to Morris and colleagues, as people see their social interactions illustrated in these feedback displays, their feeling of social isolation is reduced.

Margaret E. Morris. "Social Networks as Health Feedback Displays," IEEE Pervasive Computing Journal, vol. 9, no. 5, pp. 29-37, September/October 2005.


Social networks have thus far served primarily as analytic tools for social scientists. Leveraging pervasive computing, this new research transforms social-network models into behavioral feedback displays. These ambient displays, which reflect data on remote and face-to-face interaction gathered by wireless sensor networks, were intended to raise awareness of social connectedness as a dynamic and controllable aspect of well-being. An interdisciplinary health technology research group at Intel recently developed and tested prototypes in the homes of older adults and their caregivers. This article reviews the psychological rationale for the project and highlights some reactions of participants to the displays.

Virtual goggles can help alleviate patients' anxiety during dental procedures

Via Wired

Dentists are starting to use eyeglass systems for easing patients' anxiety and pain during dental procedures. Introducing a distraction has long been known to help reduce pain for some people during surgical operations. Because virtual reality is a uniquely effective new form of distraction, it makes an ideal candidate for pain control.

More to explore

Virtual reality in pain therapy

Virtual reality in medicine

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