The International Society on Virtual Systems and MultiMedia (VSMM) held its 23rd International Conference in Dublin/Ireland and Belfast/Northern Ireland, on October 30th to November 5th, 2017. In total, about 150 participants enjoyed an exciting program, consisting of Workshops and Conference tracks in Dublin (October 30th – November 2nd, 2017) and Special Workshops and Cultural Tours in Belfast (November 3rd – 5th). The VSMM Society launched its conferences 23 years ago in Japan, in the early stages of Virtual Reality applications. Since then, it brings together leading researchers in the application of digital media, mobile, and virtual and augmented reality technology together with users across a diverse community.

The local host was Prof. Lizbeth Goodman, a professional in the field of VR and AR and Head of the SmartLab of the University College Dublin (UCD). Most of the events were offered in The Newstead Building of the UCD Campus, 10 km southeastern of Dublin City Center. It was a great experience to make a 15min walk from/to the bus station and the conference venue. The UCD campus with its modern shaped buildings represented a perfect environment for some breaks in between the challenging conference sessions. After the Conference opening of Prof. Lizbeth Goodman, and Prof. Alonzo C. Addison, Digital Catalyst and Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, reviewed in general the developments of Mixed Reality and gave some impressing figures about the impact of the VSMM Society. Further welcome addresses were given by Prof. Michael Gilchrist, Mechanical Engineering and Head of School UCD, Shane Keaveney, Lecturer Design/Innovation Medical Devices UCD, Prof. Madeleine Lowery, School Electrical &Electronics Engineering UCD, and Triona McCormack, Director of Research UCD.

Track 1 dealt with “VR is Dead – Long live VR!“ and was keynoted by Dr. Jackie Morie, All These Worlds LLC, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Her overview started with the first experiments of Virtual Reality some 30 years ago and arrived at Mixed Reality, a term used today and also in future. She found out, that VR/AR/MR research is dominated by women, a very interesting fact which was discussed afterwards. For paper presentations a new style was introduced avoiding parallel sessions. Every presenter had 5 mins to present the contents of his/her paper and had to sit afterwards on a sofa to be ready for the Q/A session. Up to 10 panelists could fill a session and therefore the participants could follow all oral presentations. In the lunch breaks some posters have been presented. Between the track sessions new elements called “Provocations“ have been embedded to stimulate Q/As about all types of VR/AR/MR and Sensor Systems. Here it was lively demonstrated, that especially handicapped persons benefit from VR/AR/MR developments and implementations. The two cases, Padraig Schaler, suffering from severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI) and Mark Pollock, suffering for Paraplegia, demonstrated that a strong will and VR/AR technology will improve life and overcome mental and physical limitations.

The headline of Track 2 was „Mixed Realities“ and gave insights in definitions and future concepts. Because of the fast-growing industrial product lines dealing with AR and VR low-cost systems and devices help to make a penetration of AR glasses, VR and Stereo Viewers in all fields of Engnieering, Natural Sciences and Medicine possible. It was stated that MR is already amongst us and will be the technology of the future. In Track 3 “Applied 3D Sensing & Modeling“ have been discussed, with papers dealing with 3D modeling in Archeology, BIM in Architecture up to 3D App developments of the UCD campus. An interesting discussion as a follow-up could deep-dive the models and data formats used for 3D VR models. Fortunately, Track 4, headed as “Applied Haptics & Interaction“ had only three speakers, two of them were late. Thus, the blogger was given 30-40mins to present his paper “3D and 4D Modeling for AR and VR App Developments“ and also for demonstrating the Calw VR Apps.

Time Slider in the Calw VR App.

After a 20min presentation the Q/A session was intensive. The participants were really interested in the Apps and loved the live demo. Some of them invited the blogger for next year’s SIGGRAPH conference, as the Apps would demonstrate state-of-the art in data fusion combining computer vision, photogrammetry and laser scanning, as well as sophisticated 3D and 4D modeling. We will see.

Track 5 dealt with “Digital Heritage & Preservation“ and included the two late speakers of Track 4, having in total 10 presenters. Interesting papers were given, using photogrammetry, laser scanning, computer vision and computer graphics for data collections and presentations. Gayil Nails gave a Keynote entitled “Representations of the World’s Sensorium in the Olfactory Brain“. Here an excerpt of her abstract: “We sense the external world through internal neuronal representations in the brain. Because of olfaction’s unique attributes, many commercial entities are now attempting to integrate odor cues into artificial communication and entertainment environments such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (VR/AR). The addition of scent is having a substantial impact on the magnitude of immersion that is experienced in AR/VR; however, little is known about the collective emotional and psychological impact of odor stimuli as more and more people come in contact with virtual systems, nor has the safe, ethical, and sustainable use of these aromatic compounds been established.“

Daria Dorosh followed with another Keynote, entitled “Take Back Your Body“. It was a very interesting presentation and the blogger learned new insights into human bodies. Also here comes a small excpert of her Keynote: “Our mental, psychical, and physical abilities imply that each of us presides over a powerful intelligence that is vested in the body. What do we actually know about our own body? How is digital technology shifting the value of the body? Has the body been monetized, and if so, what options do we have to take back our body? Why does it matter now?“

The conference program in Dublin was concluded on November 3rd, 2017 by Track 6 „“VS & MM in Design/Engineering“ as well as two other lectures about „Back to the Future of VSMM“ and “Women in Technology“. The same evening the Gala Dinner took place, a perfect Irish setting with excellent food, beers and wines. Here, some interesting talks could be made, and above all, new friends in this emerging fields.

The VSMM2018 Conference and Exhibition will be organized by the University of California Berkeley and the venue will be in San Francisco, CA, USA. The blogger has been invited already to be Member of the Program Committee. Thus he is looking forward to another interesting VSMM Conference.

Demonstrating Calw Virtual Reality App at VSMM 2017

Prof. Dieter Fritsch was the head of the Institute for Photogrammetry at the Universitaet Stuttgart from June 1992 till March 2016. Since then he is Research professor and Professor Emeritus - he is Principal Investigator of the SFB/TRR161 D01 project. He is the academic Co-Founder of The German University in Cairo (GUC), Egypt. Prof. Fritsch published more than four hundred articles on topics of GIS, Photogrammetry, LIDAR and Remote Sensing. He is serving on steering committees in both academia and industry and is much asked for keynote speaker on academic as well as political events. Prof. Fritsch served as Rector of the Universitaet Stuttgart, for six years (2000-06).

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