Virtual Reality Research Workshop

Published: 22 January 2024

A coming together of researchers in social science and computer science to discuss the future of virtual reality research.

Date: Thursday 29 February

Time: 1-4PM

Location: Advanced Research Centre (ARC) 237B

Register for event here

In this workshop, we will bring together computer scientists and social scientists interested in VR and AR topics, to discover how social science can inform VR development, and how computer scientists can contribute to social explorations surrounding this burgeoning technology.

The workshop will focus on developing collaborations, exploring new and interdisciplinary methods, and laying foundations for future joint funding bids in VR research.

The workshop will mix presentations with interactive facilitated group discussions of scenarios and provocations, followed by a whole-workshop dialogue about potential next steps for collaboration, policy recommendations, and future research.


Prof Stephen Brewster and Dr Graham Wilson will draw on the ViAjeRo project (Traveller in Spanish) that seeks to radically improve all passenger journeys by facilitating the use of immersive Virtual and Augmented Reality (together called XR) to support entertainment, work and collaboration when on the move.


Everyday Augmented Reality (AR) headsets will herald a transition towards personal spatial computing - augmenting our intelligence, perception, and social interactions. In doing so, they will become as integral to our daily lives as smartphones are today, empowering users, communities, business’, governments and others to alter, diminish or otherwise mediate our perception of reality. AUGSOC will explore how this capacity for perceptual mediation will be used both for social good (empowering individuals and communities to control how they are perceived) and social harm (e.g. amplifying information disorder, censorship, discrimination and manipulation, and undermining a common objective reality we all experience). In doing so, AUGSOC will inform voluntary guidelines and legislation, and work towards defining perceptual human rights - ensuring society is resilient to, and prepared for, this future.

This workshop will focus the issues and complexities of taking experimental research with emerging technologies into social applications and use. This process involves HCI, design research and social research that seeks to understand and develop the ways that digital objects are accessible and are socially responsible in real world contexts. The work also explores the potential social harms that come with utilising these technologies in public spaces.

The workshop will draw on some of the following concerns:
  • How VR technologies are employed in public spaces, and what implications that has on social worlds.
  • What are the real-world social harms or VR technology and how might we investigate these through interdisciplinary research.
  • What are the considerations of using VR in confined spaces, limiting interactivity, forcing us to rely on small displays such as phones or seatback screens.
  • What are the issues about social acceptability, in how we may share the space with others, and how the norms of sharing space may inhibit technology use.
  • How VR/AR headsets could allow passengers to use their travel time in new, productive, exciting ways, and exploring if and how people may want to travel in new ways, what type of technology they might be open to use and whether adaptions need to be made to modes of travel.
  • 13:00 Registration and introductions
  • 13:15-14:15 Session 1: VR technology in public spaces: the future of transport
    • Presentation – 10 mins
    • Facilitated group discussions – 30 mins
    • Group feedback – 20 mins
  • 14:15-14:30 Break
  • 14:30-15:30 Session 2: VR technology and social harms: augmented society
    • Presentation – 10 mins
    • Facilitated group discussions – 30 mins
    • Group feedback – 20 mins
  • 15:30-16:00 Final whole-workshop discussion

First published: 22 January 2024

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