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May 07, 2012

CFP – Brain Computer Interfaces Grand Challenge 2012


(From the CFP website)

Sensors, such as wireless EEG caps, that provide us with information about the brain activity are becoming available for use outside the medical domain. As in the case of physiological sensors information derived from these sensors can be used – as an information source for interpreting the user’s activity and intentions. For example, a user can use his or her brain activity to issue commands by using motor imagery. But this control-oriented interaction is unreliable and inefficient compared to other available interaction modalities. Moreover a user needs to behave as almost paralyzed (sit completely still) to generate artifact-free brain activity which can be recognized by the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI).

Of course BCI systems are improving in various ways; improved sensors, better recognition techniques, software that is more usable, natural, and context aware, hybridization with physiological sensors and other communication systems. New applications arise at the horizon and are explored, such as motor recovery and entertainment. Testing and validation with target users in home settings is becoming more common. These and other developments are making BCIs increasingly practical for conventional users (persons with severe motor disabilities) as well as non-disabled users. But despite this progress BCIs remain, as a control interface, quite limited in real world settings. BCIs are slow and unreliable, particularly over extended periods with target users. BCIs require expert assistance in many ways; a typical end user today needs help to identify, buy, setup, configure, maintain, repair and upgrade the BCI. User-centered design is underappreciated, with BCIs meeting the goals and abilities of the designer rather than user. Integration in the daily lives of people is just beginning. One of the reasons why this integration is problematic is due to view point of BCI as control device; mainly due to the origin of BCI as a control mechanism for severely physical disabled people.

In this challenge (organised within the framework of the Call for Challenges at ICMI 2012), we propose to change this view point and therefore consider BCI as an intelligent sensor, similar to a microphone or camera, which can be used in multimodal interaction. A typical example is the use of BCI in sonification of brain signals is the exposition Staalhemel created by Christoph de Boeck. Staalhemel is an interactive installation with 80 steel segments suspended over the visitor’s head as he walks through the space. Tiny hammers tap rhythmic patterns on the steel plates, activated by the brainwaves of the visitor who wears a portable BCI (EEG scanner). Thus, visitors are directly interacting with their surroundings, in this case a artistic installation.

The main challenges to research and develop BCIs as intelligent sensors include but are not limited to:

  • How could BCIs as intelligent sensors be integrated in multimodal HCI, HRI and HHI applications alongside other modes of input control?
  • What constitutes appropriate categories of adaptation (to challenge, to help, to promote positive emotion) in response to physiological data?
  • What are the added benefits of this approach with respect to user experience of HCI, HRI and HHI with respect to performance, safety and health?
  • How to present the state of the user in the context of HCI or HRI (representation to a machine) compared to HHI (representation to the self or another person)?
  • How to design systems that promote trust in the system and protect the privacy of the user?
  • What constitutes opportune support for BCI based intelligent sensor? In other words, how can the interface adapt to the user information such that the user feels supported rather than distracted?
  • What is the user experience of HCI, HRI and HHI enhanced through BCIs as intelligent sensors?
  • What are the ethical, legal and societal implications of such technologies? And how can we address these issues timely?

We solicit papers, demonstrators, videos or design descriptions of possible demonstrators that address the above challenges. Demonstrators and videos should be accompanied by a paper explaining the design. Descriptions of possible demonstrators can be presented through a poster.
Accepted papers will be included in the ICMI conference proceedings, which will be published by ACM as part of their series of International Conference Proceedings. As such the ICMI proceedings will have an ISBN number assigned to it and all papers will have a unique DOI and URL assigned to them. Moreover, all accepted papers will be included in the ACM digital library.

Important dates

Deadline for submission: June 15, 2012
Notification of acceptance: July 7, 2012
Final paper: August 15, 2102

Grand Challenge Website:




Mar 22, 2012

1st Summer School on Human Computer Confluence


The 1st Summer School on Human Computer Confluence will take place in Milan, Italy, on 18-20 July 2012.

The Summer School is hosted and organized by the Doctoral School in Psychology of the Faculty of Psychology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano.

enquires: hcc.summerschool@unicatt.it

The specific objectives of the Summer School are to provide selected and highly-motivated participants hands-on experience with question-driven Human-Computer Confluence projects, applications and experimental paradigms, as well as to gather project leaders’ researchers and students working together on a list of inter-disciplinary challenges in the field of HCC. Participants will be assigned to different teams, working creatively and collaboratively on specific topics of interest.

The 1st Summer School will be addressed up to 40 Ph.D. students attendees, interested in the emerging symbiotic relation between humans and computing devices. There is no registration fee for the Summer School and financial aid will be available for a significant number of students towards travel and accommodation.

About Human Computer Confluence

HCC, Human-Computer Confluence, is an ambitious research program funded by the EU, studying how the emerging symbiotic relation between humans and computing devices can enable radically new forms of sensing, perception, interaction, and understanding.

The initiative aims to investigate and demonstrate new possibililities emerging at the confluence between  the human and technological realms. It will examine new modalities for individual and group perception, actions and experience in augmented, virtual spaces. Such virtual spaces would span the virtual reality continuum, also extending to purely synthetic but believable representation of massive, complex and dynamic data. Human-Computer confluence fosters inter-disciplinary research (such as Presence, neuroscience, machine learning and computer science) towards delivering unified experiences and inventing radically new forms of perception/action.

Jan 27, 2012

Positive Technology: Using Interactive Technologies to Promote Positive Functioning

Positive Technology: Using Interactive Technologies to Promote Positive Functioning

G. Riva, R.M. Baños, C. Botella, B.K. Wiederhold, A. Gaggioli

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (Online Ahead of Print: December 9, 2011) DOI

Abstract. It is generally assumed that technology assists individuals in improving the quality of their lives. However, the impact of new technologies and media on well-being and positive functioning is still somewhat controversial. In this paper, we contend that the quality of experience should become the guiding principle in the design and development of new technologies, as well as a primary metric for the evaluation of their applications. The emerging discipline of Positive Psychology provides a useful framework to address this challenge. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning and flourishing. Instead of drawing on a “disease model” of human behavior, it focuses on factors that enable individuals and communities to thrive and build the best in life. In this paper, we propose the “Positive Technology” approach—the scientific and applied approach to the use of technology for improving the quality of our personal experience through its structuring, augmentation, and/or replacement—as a way of framing a suitable object of study in the field of cyberpsychology and human–computer interaction. Specifically, we suggest that it is possible to use technology to influence three specific features of our experience—affective quality, engagement/actualization, and connectedness—that serve to promote adaptive behaviors and positive functioning. In this framework, positive technologies are classified according to their effects on a specific feature of personal experience. Moreover, for each level, we have identified critical variables that can be manipulated to guide the design and development of positive technologies.

May 23, 2011

Brains for Brains 2011 - Young Researchers Computational Neuroscience Award

The call is open for students from relevant disciplines who plan to pursue a research career in Computational Neuroscience and who have at least one peer reviewed publication or peer reviewed conference abstract that resulted from research accomplished before the start of doctoral studies, is written in English and was accepted or published in 2010 or 2011.The award comprises a 500 € cash award, plus travel grant of up to 1.500 € for a one-week trip to Germany, incl. a talk at the Award Ceremony in the framework of the Bernstein Conference 2011 and an individually planned visit to up to two German research institutions in Computational Neuroscience.

Deadline for application is May 31, 2011.

Detailed information about the application procedure can be found under:

Jan 26, 2011

Take your two minutes

I stumbled over this site today: Do Nothing for 2 minutes.

The site presents the user with a very simple challenge: can you keep yourself from touching your computer for two minutes?

When the user enters the site a serene ocean view and the sound of waves displayed. The instructions ask to sit back and relax without touching your mouse or keyboard, and then a two minute timer begins counting down. If the user touches the mouse or the keyboard, a FAIL message appears, and the clock reset itself.

The site is very simple, but is gaining a lot of attention worldwide. In spite of its simplicity, I think that it includes interesting features: the provision of relaxing content “on demand”, the countdown, the feedback about compliance with task's instructions.

If any of you knows similar websites please post them in the comments!

Jan 14, 2011

Final Call for Abstracts 16th Annual CyberPsychology & CyberTherapy Conference

June 19th to 22nd 2011 in Gatineau, Canada

This year the Interactive Media Institute (IMI) and Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) are organizing the 16th Annual CyberPsychology and CyberTherapy Conference (CT16), the official conference of the International Association of CyberPsychology, Training, & Rehabilitation (iACToR). The abstract submission deadline is January 15th, 2011.

To submit your abstract, register for the conference or obtain additional information, please visit the CT16 website at http://www.interactivemediainstitute.com/CT16.

Note that abstracts will be published in a regular issue of the Journal of CyberTherapy & Rehabilitation (JCR).

Outstanding features this year:

  • 12 hands-on / “how to” workshops
  • Two and a half day of scientific presentations
  • WorldViz offering one-day seminars on Virtual Reality development.
  • Presence of experts in clinical therapy and rehabilitation, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, social sciences, and computer sciences.
  • Interactive Cyberarium open to the general public.
  • Representatives of funding agency, policymakers, and industrial partners present on site.

Conference website: http://www.interactivemediainstitute.com/CT16

Jan 05, 2011

INTERSTRESS video released

We have just released a new video introducing the INTERSTRESS project, an EU-funded initiative that aims to design, develop and test an advanced ICT-based solution for the assessment and treatment of psychological stress. The specific objectives of the project are:

  • Quantitative and objective assessment of symptoms using biosensors and behavioral analysis
  • Decision support for treatment planning through data fusion and detection algorithms
  • Provision of warnings and motivating feedback to improve compliance and long-term outcomes

Credits: Virtual Reality Medical Institute

May 14, 2010

2010 Games for Health Conference

From the conference's press release

The Games for Health Project announced the sixth annual Games for Health Conference, to be held at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel from May 25 to 27.

Held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Pioneer Portfolio, the conference focuses on supporting ideas that may lead to breakthroughs in the future of health and health care. The Pioneer Portfolio has funded the Games for Health Project and this conference since 2004, to serve as a catalyst connecting diverse professional groups and creating opportunities to develop innovative solutions that help people live healthier lives and get the care they need.

“The Games for Health Conference joins leaders in health care and game development to initiate compelling new ideas and solutions,” said Ben Sawyer, founder of the Games for Health Project. “Attendees can expect an interactive and dynamic conference platform with valuable content, networking opportunities and community-led tracks.”

“This annual conference has become the premier event attracting the top minds in game development and health care,” said Paul Tarini, M.A., RWJF senior program officer and team director for the Pioneer Portfolio. “Games can effectively motivate people to adopt healthier behaviors, empower patients to better manage their health, and raise medical training and skill development to new levels.”

Conference Overview

The three-day conference will offer over 55 sessions featuring 100 speakers covering a wide range of topics such as exergaming, cognitive and emotional health, simulation and learning, virtual worlds and more. Sessions include a discussion about dreams and video game play with Jayne Gackenbach of Grand MacEwan University; a panel about the effect games can have on global health such as flu epidemics; and a presentation by Yale School of Medicine’s Dr. Lynn Sullivan on a National Institute of Health-funded project for HIV Prevention in At-Risk Adolescents.

The conference will also feature a game demo room as well as an outdoor game pavilion.

For more information visit the conference's website


Feb 22, 2010

Create10: the conference for innovative interaction design

Create10: the conference for innovative interaction design

30th June - 2nd July 2010

Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh UK


Jan 09, 2010

Photos: International Robot Exhibition 2009

Hundreds of robots have gathered at the International Robot Exhibition (IREX) held in November 2009 at Tokyo Big Sight. Here are a few photos from the event, collected by Pink Tentacle.






Dec 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Positive Technology Journal

Positive Technology is 5 years old.

Since then, 1650 published entries, and hundreds of comments generated.

A warm thanks to all readers, commentators and submitters of projects and news!



Dec 08, 2009

The Application and Management of Personal Electronic Information

The First International Forum on the Application and Management of Personal Electronic Information, organized by the MIT SENSEable City Lab, gathered many stakeholders from multiple disciplines to share on the issues surrounding the application and management of personal electronic information:

The goal of this forum is to explore the novel applications for electronic data and address the risks, concerns, and consumer opinions associated with the use of this data. In addition, it will include discussions on techniques and standards for both protecting and extracting value from this information from several points of view: what techniques and standards currently exist, and what are their strengths and limitations? What holistic approaches to protecting and extracting value from data would we take if we were given a blank slate?

Position papers and presentations are now online.


Dec 06, 2009

Avatar: Can't wait any longer

I just can not wait for the new James Cameron's movie Avatar...

The iPhone Orchestra

The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (MoPhO) is a new repertoire-based ensemble using mobile phones as musical instrument. MoPhO's interactive musical works take advantage of the unique technological capabilities of today's hardware and software, transforming multi-touch screens, built-in accelerometers, built-in microphones, GPS, data networks, and computation into powerful and yet mobile chamber meta-instruments.

The researcher behind the idea, Ge Wang, believes cell phones are becoming so powerful that we “cannot ignore them anymore as platforms for creativity. . . . It levels the playing ground in some ways, because everyone has a cell phone.”


The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra’s performance on December 3 at Palo Alto (CA) used an Apple iPhones amplified by speakers attached to small fingerless gloves. Here is a video of the concert.

Dec 02, 2009

Internet for Peace

Nov 23, 2009

Positive Technology in 10 slides

Nov 18, 2009

RAVE 2010 - Real Actions in Virtual Environments - Call for Papers

RAVE 2010 - Real Actions in Virtual Environments - Call for Papers

See website: http://www.raveconference.com

* When: 3rd March, 2010.

* Where:

Palau de les Heures, University of Barcelona, Campus Mundet, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171 08035 Barcelona.

* Keynote Speaker - Dr Hunter Hoffman,

http://www.hitl.washington.edu/people/hunter/, University of Washington, USA

* Papers -  may be submitted directly for oral presentation at the conference and a special issue of PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, MIT Press, to be published in August 2010.

* Abstracts may be submitted for oral presentation at the conference or will presented as posters (see website for details).

***Deadline for paper submission: 8th January, 2010*** 23.59 Central European Time (Paris, Madrid)

Oct 24, 2009

Towards Positive Technology

In the last days, I have been brainstorming non stop about the concept of Positive Technology.

After almost four years of gathering ideas in this blog, I feel it’s time for a summary...

As first step, I have tried to collect my thoughts in this presentation, which I gave last week at the Stensen Foundation in Florence.

Audience feedback was pretty good - nobody was sleeping - so it looks a promising start.

Jun 10, 2009

Frontiers of Interaction V

Frontiers of Interaction V 


Last Monday I attended Frontiers of Interaction V, where I gave a talk on Participative Ecology. The conference took place in Rome, at the wonderful Acquario Romano, Casa dell'Architettura.


I was really excited to be there, because I consider Frontiers the most interesting interaction design event in Italy.


Frontiers is organized and produced by Leandro Agrò and Matteo Penzo, who are also the founders of the Idearium community, the largest e-community on Interaction Design in Italy.


The format of the conference is very informal and fresh. You can meet people of all sorts, from academic researchers to superstars of interaction design, from anthropologists to futurists and young entrepreneurs, a mix of creativity and talent.


At the end of the meeting I felt physically exhausted but full of positive energy.


Here are some videos


(and, last but not least: Frontiers is completely free of charge, only registration is required. This is great since this makes the event accessible to young students)


W Frontiers!

May 25, 2009

4th XVR Workshop & Joint PRESENCCIA and SKILLS PhD Symposium

PRESENCCIA and SKILLS are two integrated projects that both aim to advance Virtual Reality technology. These projects are highly interdisciplinary encompassing, among others, computer science, robotics, engineering, interaction design, cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology and philosophy. All these fields, however diverse their interests, come together in the goal of integrating human interaction in mixed and virtual reality environments in order to enhance the user’s experience and enabling him to act and interact in a natural and familiar way by means of enactive paradigms.

The most interesting, challenging and useful digital environments are social, focussing on supporting (group) interaction between real people and other remote people or real people and virtual people. The aim is to understand, track and give appropriate feedback in verbal, non-verbal and implicit interactions while also making digital content more believable and intelligent.

Likewise, a number of methods need to be developed allowing users of virtual environments to not only perform actions effectively in a variety of different scenarios but also be able to choose from a repertoire of suitable actions. This requires adequate digital representations of human skills and also techniques to capture, interpret and deliver them by means of multimodal interfaces, robotics and virtual environments within enactive interaction paradigms.

At the low-level end of the spectrum we also aim to understand the neural basis of presence and its response. Its enhancement and its application is the fundamental object of study from many different points of view, and including visual, haptic and auditory modalities.

To participate to the Workshop, please register on line:

Keynote Speakers

Salvatore Maria Aglioti, Psychology Department , Università di Roma "La Sapienza” and IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Roma (http://w3.uniroma1.it/aglioti/) ù

Flesh made Soul: Bodies in the Brain.

Talking about the body implies talking about the very “special object” that allows a deep interconnection between the ability to have self-consciousness and the ability to experience a world of objects. My talk will be based on the studies in healthy and brain damaged subjects we performed in the past fifteen years on the neural representation of the body. I will put forward the idea that, although trivially made of flesh, blood and bones, the body can be considered the “psychic object” par excellence, which mediates and implements a variety of complex functions, ranging from the notion of self to social interactions and negotiations.

Jan Peters, Dept. Empirical Inference, Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tuebingen, Germany (http://www-clmc.usc.edu/~jrpeters/)

Towards Motor Skill Learning in Robotics.

Autonomous robots that can assist humans in situations of daily life have been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence,
and cognitive sciences. A first step towards this goal is to create robots that can learn tasks triggered by environmental context or higher level instruction. However, learning techniques have yet to live up to  this promise as only few methods manage to scale to high-dimensional manipulator or humanoid robots. In this talk, we investigate a general framework suitable for learning motor skills in robotics which is based on the principles behind many analytical robotics approaches. We propose new, task-appropriate architectures, such as the Natural Actor-Critic and the PoWER algorithm.
and cognitive sciences. A first step towards this goal is to create robots that can learn tasks triggered by environmental context or higher level instruction. However, learning techniques have yet to live up to  this promise as only few methods manage to scale to high-dimensional manipulator or humanoid robots. In this talk, we investigate a general framework suitable for learning motor skills in robotics which is based on the principles behind many analytical robotics approaches. We propose new, task-appropriate architectures, such as the Natural Actor-Critic and the PoWER algorithm.