The 25th International Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents (CASA 2012) signals a clear shift in the research world's centre of gravity to Asia, as this is the first time that the conference is being held in Singapore, and the third time in Asia within the last five years. The region previously hosted the conference in Korea in 2008 and in China in 2011.
The three-day conference features more than 50 speakers who will present their most current research findings in the areas of computer animation, autonomous social robots and virtual humans, and how these technologies can be leveraged to advance related areas such as personalised healthcare, serious game design and eldercare.
World-famous Asian professors to give keynote address
Addressing this year's conference are acclaimed Japanese robot designer and Osaka University Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro and renowned computer graphics expert, Professor Zhang Jian Jun of Bournemouth University.
Professor Ishiguro, named one of the top 100 geniuses alive in the world today by the Synectics Survey of Contemporary Genius in 2007, has developed many humanoids and androids, such as the Repliee and Geminoid that have a strong visual human-likeness, can recognise and process speech and respond in kind, as well as make lifelike movements such as blinking and "breathing". Professor Ishiguro created a stir last year when he unveiled the Elfoid, a mobile-phone device that looks like a developing foetus, but designed with the ability to form facial expressions and movements that mimic the user on the other end.
Fellow keynote speaker, Professor Zhang Jian Jun, who is based in the United Kingdom, specialises in computer graphics. In 2009, Professor Zhang co-founded the Centre for Digital Entertainment (CDE), a multimillion dollar organisation that grooms the next generation of technical leaders in the area of computer games, computer animation and digital effects. The CDE is backed by leading international game makers including Frontier, Codemasters, and Microsoft.
Commenting on the significance of the conference for Singapore, Professor Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann, director of NTU's Institute for Media Innovation, which is co-organising CASA 2012 with the Computer Graphics Society (CGS), said, "This conference is a landmark for Singapore, as it is the first time that the CASA conference is hosted here, with about half of attendees coming from Asian countries. This conference brings together the right group of experts at the right time in the history of Asia, to set the stage for the world's next big leap forward in animation and virtual environments. This conference also dovetails with the efforts of IMI and NTU to make a global mark in new media research and development."
NTU has identified New Media as one of the five key areas that the university intends to make a global mark by 2015. The other four areas are sustainability, future healthcare, innovation and the best of East and West. The Institute for Media Innovation is the principal facilitator of cross-campus new media research collaborations at NTU, working with the various schools and institutes on campus and abroad to advance interdisciplinary research and new knowledge where traditional disciplines like engineering, healthcare, art, design and media overlap. As a university with strong engineering, art, media and education schools, NTU is well-placed to excel in new media and help boost Singapore's transformation into a global media city.
Cutting-edge demos and workshops
Prior to the conference's opening on May 10, the IMI presented eight demos showcasing the latest innovations in computer animation, social robots and virtual environments.
Visitors were able to view a virtual 3-D fashion show without the aid of glasses. The project by an IMI research team led by Prof Thalmann, taps on the latest auto-stereoscopic technology that enables audiences to see 3-D quality objects on the screen by standing in front of the display itself, thus resulting in a memorable visual experience. In another demo, a social robot and virtual human gave an interactive artistic performance. The robot plays dance music on a DJ set, while the 3-D virtual human dances to the music illustrating the exciting convergence and interaction of real and virtual social agents in new media.
Three workshops were also held on May 9 to promote expert discussions and advance the development of 3-D imaging of the human body, serious game and simulation, and autonomous social robots and virtual humans.
The workshop jointly organised by the Multiscale Human project of the Europe-based Marie Curie Research Training Network and the IMI in Singapore, brought together international researchers to discuss state-of-the-art techniques and ideas from a wide range of disciplines associated with medical imaging, medical simulation, computer assisted surgery and 3D semantics.
The Asian-European Workshop on Serious Game and Simulation looked at a host of applications to improve the design and use of serious game for education, business and safety training, while a third workshop looked into the ongoing development of assistive social robots and virtual humans that could, for example, potentially increase the quality of life of the elderly by providing companionship and enhance psychological well-being.
Provided by Nanyang Technological University
This Phys.org Science News Wire page contains a press release issued by an organization mentioned above and is provided to you “as is” with little or no review from Phys.Org staff.