Feb 27th 2008, Barcelona

First of an Annual Workshop Series: This is the first of a workshop series focusing on the whys and hows of realistic action in virtual environments.

« rave (vb) – to rave – to act realistically when immersed in digital media. »

Why do people smile at an avatar that is smiling at them, when they know full well that no one is there, and no one can see their smile? Why do they become anxious when standing in front of a deep virtual hole in the ground, when they know for sure that there is no hole there? Since the advent of virtual reality in the 1980s it has been well known that not only do people have a feeling of being transported to the place depicted by a virtual environment, but they also tend to act as if they were really there.

We are interested in how people act, how they respond, and why. Our focus is clear: people tend to respond realistically to virtually generated sensory data. We want to measure it objectively and quantitatively to understand how and why it happens scientifically, and what we can do also as engineers to make it even better. We do not a priori put limits on what we regard as a « virtual reality » system – we include in this term augmented reality, single screen-displays, head mounted displays, Cave systems, and so on.

This research has profound ramifications across many dimensions. Science – what is it about the way the brain processes sensory signals that makes it possible for relatively poor simulations of reality to spark such a high degree of realistic activity? How can we use this understanding to take designed better environments? Even the very notion of the human body and our relationship to our own bodies can be transformed. This has very deep implications for the scientific study of body processing and consciousness. Computer Science and Engineering – How can we build systems that maximise the chance that people will rave in them? There are fundamental challenges for the construction of new systems, and their emergence out of the laboratory into businesses and homes. Applications – to the extent that people show such realistic responses, whole new fields of endeavour open up that can be approached in novel ways: psychotherapy, neurorehabilitation, quality of life technologies, ergonomics, mission training, industrial prototyping and education to name but a few. When we add the capability for such virtual environments to be shared by many people, we also add a vast range of additional applications, such as remote negotiations and meetings, virtual travel, virtual conferences, and so on. Philosophy – what are the implications for our notion of reality and self? Is what we have thought of as reality simply one amongst many parallel realities that we now inhabit? Entertainment – there are profound new possibilities for entertainment – for example, a person could lead multiple parallel lives – working in the office all day answering emails in « this life », a private detective in the other « parallel life » within a shared virtual reality.

We invite contributions to the first RAVE workshop. Contributions must be at a high scientific level, and typically would describe, attempt to understand, or engineer RAVE phenomena. RAVE-08 is only the kick-off one day conference of what we plan as the first of an annual series, so the number of contributions that can be accepted is small.

Applications should be sent as one page Abstracts to rave08(at)peachbit.org by Jan 14th 2008 and cover the following points (see abstract template [at < http://www.starlab.info/peach/files/RAVE%20Abstract.rtf >]):

1. One or two sentences providing a basic introduction to the issue at stake in the research..
2. A clear statement of the problem specifically covered by the study, and the current state of the art.
3. A section beginning with « Here we show » giving the main result, explaining what new knowledge has been generated.
4. A section explaining what the main result reveals in direct comparison to what was thought to be the case previously, or how the main result adds to previous knowledge.
5. A section putting the results into a more general context, and the implications for further research.


The workshop will be hosted by the Institute of Audio-Visual Studies (IUA), Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain), with support from Starlab and Peach.

Important Dates

Abstracts due: 2008-01-14 (see template)
Responses by: 2008-01-28
Workshop: 2008-02-27
Workshop Committee

Mel Slater, UPC-CRV http://www.event-lab.org/
Paul Verschure, UPF-IUA, http://specs.upf.edu/
Giulio Ruffini, Peach, http://peachbit.org, Starlab,
Download the Workshop Brochure [at < http://www.starlab.info/peach/files/RAVE08r3.pdf >]

RAVE: Real Action, Virtual Environments. We are concerned with why and how and under what conditions people act realistically within virtual environments, and how to make it happen.


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