Vice VRsa: Balancing Bystander’s and VR user’s Privacy through Awareness Cues Inside and Outside VR

Youngwook Do, Frederik Brudy, George W. Fitzmaurice, Fraser Anderson

in Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2023 (GI'23), Victoria, BC, Canada

tl;dr: Virtual reality (VR) users are disconnected from the physical environment, which leaves them vulnerable to being unknowingly observed by bystanders. Similarly, a VR user might use a headset's recording functionality to spy on bystanders. We propose Vice VRsa, a system that promotes mutual awareness and privacy by informing VR users about bystander presence and bystanders about the VR user's monitoring status.


The immersive experience of Virtual Reality (VR) disconnects VR users from their physical surroundings, subjecting them to surveillance from bystanders who could record conversations without consent. While recent research has sought to mitigate this risk (e.g., VR users can stream a live view of their surrounding area into VR), it does not address that bystanders are conversely being recorded by the VR stream without their knowledge. This creates a causality dilemma where the VR user’s privacy-enhancing activities raise the bystander’s privacy concerns. We introduce Vice VRsa, a system that provides awareness of bystander presence to VR users as well as a VR user’s monitoring status to bystanders. This work seeks to provide a concept and set of interactions for considering mutual awareness and privacy for both VR users and bystanders. Results from preliminary interviews with VR experts suggest factors for privacy implications in designing VR interactions in public physical spaces.