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Jan 30, 2006

Presence 14:6 Now Available

Special Section:

Legal, Ethical, and Policy Issues Associated with Virtual Environments and Computer Mediated Reality


Sousveillance and Cyborglogs: A 30-Year Empirical Voyage through Ethical, Legal, and Policy Issues
Steve Mann

Buddy Bots: How Turing's Fast Friends are Undermining Consumer Privacy
Ian R. Kerr and Marcus Bornfreund

The Philosophy of Presence: From Epistemic Failure to Successful Observation
Luciano Floridi

Some Practical Considerations of Ethical Issues in VR Research
Katharina-Maria Behr, Andreas Nosper, Christoph Klimmt and Tilo Hartmann

Evaluation of a Haptic Mixed Reality System for Interactions with a Virtual Control Panel
Christoph W. Borst and Richard A. Volz

Leaving the World Behind: Supporting Group Collaboration Patterns in a Shared Virtual Environment for Product
John M. Linebarger, Christopher D. Janneck and G. Drew Kessler

Feedback Strategies for Telemanipulation with Shared Control of Object Handling Forces
Weston B. Griffin, William R. Provancher and Mark R. Cutkosky

Virtual Environment Training Therapy for Arm Motor Rehabilitation
Lamberto Piron, Paolo Tonin, Francesco Piccione, Vincenzo Iaia, Elena Trivello and Mauro Dam

Forum Issues of Law for Software Agents Within Virtual Environments
Woodrow Barfield

Jan 28, 2006

Telepresence and Bio Art

Via Boing-Boing

For nearly two decades Eduardo Kac has been at the cutting edge of media art, first inventing early online artworks for the web and continuously developing new art forms that involve telecommunications and robotics as a new platform for art. Interest in telepresence, also known as telerobotics, exploded in the 1990s, and remains an important development in media art. Since that time, Kac has increasingly moved into the fields of biology and biotechnology.

Telepresence and Bio Art is the first book to document the evolution of bio art and the aesthetic development of Kac, the creator of the "artist's gene" as well as the controversial glow-in-the-dark, genetically engineered rabbit Alba. Kac covers a broad range of topics within media art, including telecommunications media, interactive systems and the Internet, telematics and robotics, and the contact between electronic art and biotechnology. Addressing emerging and complex topics, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary art. Artist Eduardo Kac is internationally recognized for his interactive Internet installations and his bio art. A pioneer of telecommunications art in the pre-web '80s, Kac emerged in the early '90s with his radical telepresence and biotelematic works.

Researchers Pinpoint Brain Areas That Process Reality, Illusion

Via Washington University in St Luis

A study by Daniel Moran and coll. has focused on studying perception and playing visual tricks on macaque monkeys and some human subjects. These scholars have created a virtual reality video game to trick the monkeys into thinking that they were tracing ellipses with their hands, though they actually were moving their hands in a circle.

Then researchers monitored nerve cells in the monkeys enabling them to see what areas of the brain represented the circle and which areas represented the ellipse. They found that the primary motor cortex represented the actual movement while the signals from cells in a neighboring area, called the ventral premotor cortex, were generating elliptical shapes. The research shows how the mind creates its sense of order in the world and then adjusts on the fly to eliminate distortions.

For instance, the first time you don a new pair of bifocals, there is a difference in what you perceive visually and what your hand does when you go to reach for something. With time, though, the brain adjusts so that vision and action become one. The ventral premotor complex plays a major role in that process. Knowing how the brain works to distinguish between action and perception will enhance efforts to build biomedical devices that can control artificial limbs, some day enabling the disabled to move a prosthetic arm or leg by thinking about it.

Results were published in the Jan. 16, 2004 issue of Science.


Effect of tutorial input in addition to augmented feedback on manual dexterity training and its retention

Effect of tutorial input in addition to augmented feedback on manual dexterity training and its retention.

Eur J Dent Educ. 2006 Feb;10(1):24-31

Authors: Wierinck E, Puttemans V, van Steenberghe D

Abstract Virtual reality (VR) simulators can be used as tools in manual dexterity training. The visual feedback guides the subject towards proper performance but creates, at the same time, some dependency on this feedback. To overcome this drawback, the effect of adjunct tutorial input on motor learning behaviour was examined. Novice dental students were randomly assigned to one of two training groups or to a non-training control group, given the task of preparing a geometrical class 1 cavity in phantom teeth. The feedback (FB) group trained under augmented visual feedback conditions, provided by the VR system (DentSim(TM)). The feedback-plus (FB+) group received, in addition, standardised expert input to enrich the augmented feedback information. The control group, consisting of same year students, did not participate in any training programme. All preparations were evaluated by the VR scoring system. Performance analyses revealed an overall trend towards significant improvement with practice for the training groups. Performance of the FB+ group was most accurate across training. After 1 day and 3 weeks of no practice, both training groups outperformed the control group. After 4 months, however, only the FB+ condition was significantly more accurate than the control group. The same tendency was noted for the transfer tests. Consequently, cavity preparation experience on a VR system under the condition of frequently provided feedback supplemented with expert input was most beneficial to long time learning.

Meditation therapy for anxiety disorders

Meditation therapy for anxiety disorders.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(1):CD004998

Authors: Krisanaprakornkit T, Krisanaprakornkit W, Piyavhatkul N, Laopaiboon M

BACKGROUND: Anxiety disorders are characterised by long term worry, tension, nervousness, fidgeting and symptoms of autonomic system hyperactivity. Meditation is an age-old self regulatory strategy which is gaining more interest in mental health and psychiatry. Meditation can reduce arousal state and may ameliorate anxiety symptoms in various anxiety conditions. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effectiveness of meditation therapy in treating anxiety disorders SEARCH STRATEGY: Electronic databases searched include CCDANCTR-Studies and CCDANCTR-References, complementary and alternative medicine specific databases, Science Citation Index, Health Services/Technology Assessment Text database, and grey literature databases. Conference proceedings, book chapters and references were checked. Study authors and experts from religious/spiritual organisations were contacted. SELECTION CRITERIA: Types of studies: Randomised controlled trials.Types of participants: patients with a diagnosis of anxiety disorders, with or without another comorbid psychiatric condition.Types of interventions: concentrative meditation or mindfulness meditation. Comparison conditions: one or combination of 1) pharmacological therapy 2) other psychological treatment 3) other methods of meditation 4) no intervention or waiting list.Types of outcome: 1) improvement in clinical anxiety scale 2) improvement in anxiety level specified by triallists, or global improvement 3) acceptability of treatment, adverse effects 4) dropout. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were independently extracted by two reviewers using a pre-designed data collection form. Any disagreements were discussed with a third reviewer, and the authors of the studies were contacted for further information. MAIN RESULTS: Two randomised controlled studies were eligible for inclusion in the review. Both studies were of moderate quality and used active control comparisons (another type of meditation, relaxation, biofeedback). Anti-anxiety drugs were used as standard treatment. The duration of trials ranged from 3 months (12 weeks) to 18 weeks. In one study transcendental meditation showed a reduction in anxiety symptoms and electromyography score comparable with electromyography-biofeedback and relaxation therapy. Another study compared Kundalini Yoga (KY), with Relaxation/Mindfulness Meditation. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale showed no statistically significant difference between groups. The overall dropout rate in both studies was high (33-44%). Neither study reported on adverse effects of meditation. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The small number of studies included in this review do not permit any conclusions to be drawn on the effectiveness of meditation therapy for anxiety disorders. Transcendental meditation is comparable with other kinds of relaxation therapies in reducing anxiety, and Kundalini Yoga did not show significant effectiveness in treating obsessive-compulsive disorders compared with Relaxation/Meditation. Drop out rates appear to be high, and adverse effects of meditation have not been reported. More trials are needed.

Jan 27, 2006

Using psychophysiological techniques to measure user experience with entertainment technologies

Using psychophysiological techniques to measure user experience with entertainment technologies by Mandryk R, Inkpen K, Calvert T, Behaviour and Information Technology, Vol. 25, No. 2. (April 2006), pp. 141-158.
Emerging technologies offer exciting new ways of using entertainment technology to create fantastic play experiences and foster interactions between players. Evaluating entertainment technology is challenging because success isn’t defined in terms of productivity and performance, but in terms of enjoyment and interaction. Current subjective methods of evaluating entertainment technology aren’t sufficiently robust. This paper describes two experiments designed to test the efficacy of physiological measures as evaluators of user experience with entertainment technologies. We found evidence that there is a different physiological response in the body when playing against a computer versus playing against a friend. These physiological results are mirrored in the subjective reports provided by the participants. In addition, we provide guidelines for collecting physiological data for user experience analysis, which were informed by our empirical investigations. This research provides an initial step towards using physiological responses to objectively evaluate a user’s experience with entertainment technology.

Presence 2006

From the conference's website

Academics and practitioners with an interest in the concept of (tele)presence are invited to submit their work for presentation at PRESENCE 2006 at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, August 24-26, 2006.

The ninth in a series of highly successful international workshops, PRESENCE 2006 will provide an open discussion forum to share ideas regarding concepts and theories, measurement techniques, technology, and applications related to presence, the psychological state or subjective perception in which a person fails to accurately and completely acknowledge the role of technology in an experience, including the sense of 'being there' experienced by users of advanced media such as virtual reality.

The concept of presence has been the focus of increasing scholarly attention since at least Minsky's "Telepresence" in 1980. Recently there has been a burst of funded research activity in this area with the European FET Presence Research initiative. What do we really know about presence and its determinants? How can presence be successfully delivered with today's technology? This conference invites papers that are based on empirical results from studies of presence and related issues and/or that make substantial advances in theoretical understanding of presence and/or that contribute to the technology for the delivery of presence. High quality papers which make substantial contributions to the field are sought; submissions will be rigorously evaluated by peer reviewers.

Work accepted for presentation will be included in the official conference proceedings and posted on the ISPR web site. Some of the presented papers will be selected for publication in one or more special issues of CyberPsychology & Behavior or Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments.

PRESENCE 2006 takes place in Cleveland and is hosted by Cleveland State University. The conference is organized by ISPR, the International Society for Presence Research.

Meditation potentially capable of increasing susceptibility to epilepsy - A follow-up hypothesis

Meditation potentially capable of increasing susceptibility to epilepsy - A follow-up hypothesis.

Med Hypotheses. 2006 Jan 21;

Authors: Jaseja H

In an earlier article entitled "Meditation may predispose to epilepsy: an insight into the alteration in brain environment induced by meditation" published in Medical Hypotheses 2005:64(3):464-7, the author has hypothesized that meditation exerts predisposing influence on epileptogenesis. The hypothesis is based on certain EEG changes and electrographic features (namely hypersynchrony and coherence of EEG activity) and increase in chemical transmitters (namely glutamate and serotonin) in the brain during the course and attainment of meditation. This paper aims to further strengthen the hypothesized predisposing influence of meditation on epilepsy by providing stronger evidences and with more elaboration. Studies on meditators have reported various adverse outcomes and one such study has indeed revealed significantly higher incidence of complex partial epileptic-like signs and experiences in a large number (n=221) of meditators compared to non-meditators (controls n=860), the researcher claiming "cognitive kindling" by meditation to be the underlying basis. These studies thus do highlight and underscore the strong influence of meditation in increasing susceptibility to epilepsy.

Jan 26, 2006

Developing prosthetics to treat cognitive disabilities resulting from acquired brain injuries

Developing prosthetics to treat cognitive disabilities resulting from acquired brain injuries

Neurol Res. 2002 Mar;24(2):116-24

Authors: Schiff ND, Plum F, Rezai AR

Persistent cognitive disabilities represent the most troublesome consequences of acquired brain injury. Although these problems are widely recognized, few neuroprosthetic efforts have focused on developing therapeutic strategies aimed at improving general cognitive functions such as sustained attention, intention, working memory or awareness. If possible, effective modulation of these neuropsychologic components might improve recovery of interactive behaviors. The emerging field of neuromodulation holds promise that technologies developed to treat other neurological disorders may be adapted to address the cognitive problems of patients suffering from acquired brain injuries. We here discuss initial efforts at neuromodulation in patients in the persistent vegetative state and aspects of recent studies of the underlying neurobiology of PVS and other severe brain injuries. Innovative strategies for open-loop and closed-loop neuromodulation of impaired cognitive function are outlined. We discuss the possibilities of linking neuromodulation techniques to underlying neuronal mechanisms underpinning cognitive rehabilitation maneuvers. Ethical considerations surrounding the development of these strategies are reviewed.

Neuropsychological technologies in rehabilitation

Neuropsychological technologies in rehabilitation.

J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2002 Oct;17(5):369-77

Authors: Chute DL

OBJECTIVE: To provide an introduction and a conceptual context for the articles presented in this special edition of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation on neuropsychological technologies. SUMMARY: Many clinical assessments in neuropsychology are metamorphosing from a psychometric search for a lesion to a functional image of the working brain. Behavioral probes increasingly employ technology to provide more ecologically valid stimuli to elicit diagnostically relevant responses. Intervention strategies include an expanding range of assistive devices and technologically based treatments. The advent of the microprocessor and discipline specific programming have allowed certain aspects of rehabilitation practice to incorporate these new assessment and intervention strategies. For example, the development of neuropsychological technologies has already lead to computer based prosthetics and orthotics, cognitive probes with millisecond accurate links to functional imaging, virtual reality managed ecological assessments, cognitive retraining, assistive devices, and online, and "real-time" database-driven evaluations. Emerging technologies offer the potential for personal, portable, everyday brain imaging and rehabilitation systems. Few psychologists, physiatrists, or allied health professionals are formally trained in technological development. What has emerged thus far is a collection of individual efforts that remain to be integrated into more comprehensive tools for the rehabilitation professions. The selective history of neuropsychological technologies presented here is meant to illustrate past difficulties in the emergence of this sub-specialty and point to new applications and technological integration that may prove fruitful. The convergence of neuroengineering, adaptive assessments, everyday neuroimaging, neuroinformatics, and educational neuroimaging, presage such future developments in neuropsychological technologies.

Jan 25, 2006

A time-series prediction approach for feature extraction in a brain-computer interface

A time-series prediction approach for feature extraction in a brain-computer interface.

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2005 Dec;13(4):461-7

Authors: Coyle D, Prasad G, McGinnity TM

This paper presents a feature extraction procedure (FEP) for a brain-computer interface (BCI) application where features are extracted from the electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded from subjects performing right and left motor imagery. Two neural networks (NNs) are trained to perform one-step-ahead predictions for the EEG time-series data, where one NN is trained on right motor imagery and the other on left motor imagery. Features are derived from the power (mean squared) of the prediction error or the power of the predicted signals. All features are calculated from a window through which all predicted signals pass. Separability of features is achieved due to the morphological differences of the EEG signals and each NNs specialization to the type of data on which it is trained. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) is used for classification. This FEP is tested on three subjects off-line and classification accuracy (CA) rates range between 88% and 98%. The approach compares favorably to a well-known adaptive autoregressive (AAR) FEP and also a linear AAR model based prediction approach.

Course in computational neuroscience

Via Neuro-IT mailing list 

August 7th – September 1st  2006, Arcachon, France

The Advanced Course in Computational Neuroscience is for advanced graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in learning the essentials of the field. We seek students of any nationality from a variety of disciplines, including neuroscience, physics, electrical engineering, computer science, mathematics and psychology. Students are expected to have a keen interest and basic background in neurobiology as well as some computer experience.

The course has two complementary parts. Mornings are devoted to lectures given by distinguished international faculty on topics across the breadth of experimental and computational neuroscience. During the rest of the day, students are given practical training in the art and practice of neural modelling, largely through the medium of their individual choice of model systems.

The first week of the course introduces students to essential neurobiological concepts and to the most important techniques in modelling single cells, networks and neural systems. Students learn how to solve their research problems using software packages such as MATLAB, NEST, NEURON, XPP, etc. During the following three weeks the lectures cover specific brain areas and functions. Topics range from modelling single cells and subcellular processes through the simulation of simple circuits, large neuronal networks and system level models of the brain. The course ends with project presentations by the students.

A maximum of 30 students will be accepted. There will be a minimum fee of EUR 500 per student (depending on the course’s funding) covering costs for lodging, meals and other course expenses. Also depending on funding, there will be a limited number of tuition fee waivers and travel stipends available for students who need financial help for attending the course. We specifically encourage applications from researchers who work in the developing world. These students will be selected following the normal submission procedure.

Applications, including a description of the target project must be submitted electronically (see below) and should be accompanied by the names and email details of two referees who have agreed to furnish references. Applications will be assessed by a committee, with selection being based on the following criteria: the scientific quality of the candidate (CV) and of the project, the recommendation letters, and evidence that the course affords substantial.

More information and application forms can be obtained from here

International Symposium on Artificial Brain with Emotion and Learning

via Neuro-IT mailing list 


Bio-Inspired Models and Hardware for Brain-like Intelligent Functions

August 24-25, 2006, Seoul, Korea

This symposium aims to bring together international researchers from the cognitive neuroscience and engineering communities for biologically-inspired models and system implementations with human-like intelligent functions. The previous meeting was held as a post-IJCNN Symposium on Bio-Inspired Models and Hardware (BIMH2005) at Montreal, Canada, on August 5, 2005.

Although artificial neural networks are based on information processing mechanisms in our brain, there still exists a big gap between the biological neural networks and artificial neural networks. The more intelligence we would like to incorporate into artificial intelligent systems, the more biologically-inspired models and hardware are required. Fortunately the cognitive neuroscience has been developed enormously during the last decade, and engineers now have more to learn from the science.  

In this symposium we will discuss what engineers want to learn from the science and how the scientists may be able to provide the knowledge.
Then, mathematical models will be presented with more biological plausibility.
The hardware and system implementation will also be reported with the performance comparison with conventional methods for real-world complex applications. A panel will be organized for the future research directions at the end.

This symposium will promote synergetic interaction among cognitive neuroscientists, neural networks and robotics engineers, and result in more biologically-plausible mathematical models and hardware systems with more human-like intelligent performance in real-world applications.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

.    Models of auditory pathway
.    Models of visual pathway
.    Models of cognition, learning, and inference
.    Models of attention, emotion, and consciousness
.    Models of autonomous behavior
.    Hardware implementation of bio-inspired models
.    Engineering applications of bio-inspired models

Visit the conference website for detailed information



Jan 24, 2006

International Conference Series on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies

Musikhuset Esbjerg, Centre for the Performing Arts and International Conferences, Denmark, 18-20 September 2006

From the conference website




The purpose of the sixth International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies is to provide a forum for international experts and researchers to present and review how advances in the general area of Virtual Reality can be used to assist people with Disability. This international conference will encompass all aspects of technology used in Virtual Reality systems. Papers are sought in which technical innovation is backed up by evidence of original and practical implementation, or which promise practical implementation in the very near future. Presentations which include video material and/or experimental systems are particularly welcome. Facilities for presenting such material will be available at the conference.

The research presented at the conference will be published in a peer reviewed Proceedings which will be made widely available. It is hoped that the conference will act as a focus for international collaboration.

ICDVRAT 2006 follows on from the success of the conference series: Maidenhead, UK (1996), Skövde, Sweden (1998); Alghero, Sardinia (2000); Veszprém, Hungary (2002); and Oxford, UK (2004). Full papers presented at all previous conferences are available here. Final abstracts from all papers accepted for ICDVRAT 2006 will be made available at the same site at the time of the conference with Full Proceedings book and CDROM archive available to delegates at the conference itself. Papers from 2006 will be made available online in Spring 2007.


Jan 23, 2006

Fifth International Workshop on Virtual Rehabilitation (IWVR2006)

The Fifth International Workshop on Virtual Rehabilitation (IWVR2006) will take place August 29 and 30, 2006 at Marriott Marquis Hotel, New York City, USA, in conjunction with the 28th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society

Deadline for ALL submissions is April 1, 2006

Call for Papers

Full papers are solicited related to the use of Virtual Reality in

  • Musculo-skeletal virtual rehabilitation,
  • Motor rehabilitation post-stroke,
  • Assessment/rehabilitation of patients with cognitive deficits,
  • Telerehabilitation and Haptics,
  • Autism, ADHD and Developmental Disabilities,
  • VR Exposure Therapy for Anxiety Disorders,
  • VR for Pain Distraction,
  • Cue Exposure methods for treating addictive behaviors,
  • Integration of VR with psycho-physiological and brain imaging studies,
  • Virtual Reality treatment of PTSD,
  • Novel VR techniques in rehabilitation and Bio-feedback devices,
  • Sociological, demographic and legal aspects of Virtual Rehabilitation

Best Paper Award (500 USD) sponsored by Hocoma AG

A Special Issue on IWVR06 will appear in the IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. Authors who want to also be considered for this Special Issue should indicate so when submitting to IWVR06. Selected papers presented at IWVR06 will undergo a second review for the Special Issue.

Telepresence as flow

Via the Presence L-Listserve

This newspaper article from ContractorUK reports on results of a study by Steve Pace, who has found a link between flow state and the sense of "being there" that gamers experience when immersed in a virtual world.

The study is very interesting, though the idea that flow and presence share a common ground is not new. For example Draper and coll. (1996) have speculated that presence could be a specific kind of flow experience occurring during teleoperations. Jacobson (2002) has argued that when a virtual world is viewed as a locus of activity, flow explains presence. I have expressed a similar idea in this book chapter.


Draper, J. V., & Blair, L. M. (1996). Workload, flow, and telepresence during teleoperation. Paper presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Minneapolis, MN.


Gamers 'flow' into the zone

Square-eyed computer gamers occupy the same mental ‘zone’ as athletes preparing to run a race, new research reveals. Regardless of format, gamers lose track of time and temporarily forget about their physical surroundings and usual concerns, such as eating and going to the toilet. In this state – technically known as ‘flow,’ they occupy the same mental zone as athletes or others whose, “attention is intently focused on an activity that is challenging yet enjoyable.” Such is the verdict of Dr Steve Pace of the Central Queensland University, who has been awarded a $10,000 grant to probe into the minds of computer game players. His seminal study has uncovered not just ‘flow,’ but also that gamers experience a sense of ‘telepresence’ - serving to cocoon PC or console enthusiasts in a virtual world. According to the study, telepresence is the technical term for when players feel present in an environment by means of a communication medium. The environment may be a real place such as a distant space viewed through a video camera, or an artificial place such as an animated world as in World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto Vice City.

Users often experience a combination of flow and telepresence when playing computer games that involve simulated 3D environments. “I think flow holds the key to telling us what makes engaging experiences on the computer,” Dr Pace said, speaking to Australia’s The Age. “If you try talking to someone experiencing flow while playing on a computer game, you'll just get a grunt," he said. The main beneficiaries of Dr Pace’s research will be multi- media software developers who will gain fresh guidelines on how to maximise opportunities for experiencing flow and telepresence in 3D games, learning tools and websites. Other software developers are expected to benefit from unprecedented insights into design factors that influence a computer user’s state of mind and behaviour toward new technologies. Reflecting on the study, academics pointed out advances in multi media development often have significant flow-on effects for the wider software industry, particularly in education and health sectors. Meanwhile, the eminent psychologist Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has explored ‘flow’ in artists, musicians, and people immediately after they have read a novel or watched a film. His research found around 15 per cent of people never experience flow – but concluded that the feeling is unconnected with intelligence. However, optimal flow is reached the more skills are gained; meaning the subject typically ‘knows what needs doing, and how well it is going’ with a timeless sense of serenity, neither anxious nor bored.

World of Health IT 2006 Conference

October 10-13, 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland

The conference aims to connect leading health information and communication technology experts from Europe and beyond in educational sessions, vendor exhibitions, interoperability demonstrations, exchange of experiences and networking sessions, and other professional development opportunities.

The focus of the conference is on the role and impact Health IT has on the health sector in Europe and other parts of the world, including the Middle East and Africa. The educational sessions will address experiences from deployed services, and focus on proven benefits in quality and efficiency.

Visit the conference website for further information about the event and related call for papers

Jan 22, 2006

Mindpixel founder Chris McKinstry announces his suicide online

Chris McKinstry, founder of the Mindpixel project, has expressed suicide intentions on his blog.

Two postings appeared on Friday, 20 January 2006, suggesting that McKinstry has committed suicide by drug overdose.

The wikipedia entry on Chris McKinstry has been upgraded on Friday with his suicide announce. This contains a link to a forum, where he re-posted the suicidal note appeared on his blog. McKinstry said he was posting from an Internet cafè in Chile. Forum participants have tried to dissuade McKinstry and to identify his precise location in Chile tracking the IP address. They also contacted the US embassy in Santiago, which turned the case over to the Canadian embassy (McKinstry is a Canadian citizen).

There have been no new postings on the forum since yesterday morning.

Jan 21, 2006

CBS News reports on neuromarketing

This report by CBS news argues that brain fitness is about to become big business. In support of this argument, the article cites the example of Posit Science, a company which has developed a brain fitness program, which is thought to improve brain functions. Though personally I do not know any scientific paper showing evidence of the effectiveness of this specific program, the founder of the company, Dr. Michael Merzenich, is a renowned neuroscientist, so I expect that the program he has developed is based on rigorous scientific foundations.


Jan 20, 2006

E-motional linkage

Via we-make-money-not-art 

The project ‘Ether Beat' has developed devices that sense, process, transmit and receive the ECG wavelength. The collection is made up of two sets of garments. The effect provided by the garments is of the heartbeat wavelength of your remote friend/lover/relative being received as vibration through your garment. Conceptually, the motivation for the project is two-fold: to question whether usage of the apparatus will encourage physiological empathy - the moderation of ones heartbeat to syncopate with that of the remote other; and emotional empathy - the establishment of a remote emotional linkage.
The garments utilise simple technologies, which have been ‘rejigged' to suit the prototype, combined with specifically designed processing equipment. From a design perspective, the challenge has been to utilise the structure of the requisite technologies to inform the development of the apparel, rather than retrofitting an existing garment. Thus, they have been drafted from the initial stages using traditional construction techniques in non-traditional ways to accommodate electronic pathways, processing equipment, and battery power.
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