Understanding AR Activism: An Interview Study with Creators of Augmented Reality Experiences for Social Change

Rafael M.L. Silva, Erica Principe Cruz, Daniela K. Rosner, Dayton Kelly, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Fannie Liu
Event CHI 2022
Research Areas Human Computer Interaction


The rise of consumer augmented reality (AR) technology has opened up new possibilities for interventions intended to disrupt and subvert cultural conventions. From defacing corporate logos to erecting geofenced digital monuments, more and more people are creating AR experiences for social causes. We sought to understand this new form of activism, including why people use AR for these purposes, opportunities and challenges in using it, and how well it can support activist goals. We conducted semi-structured interviews with twenty people involved in projects that used AR for a social cause across six different countries. We found that AR can overcome physical world limitations of activism to convey immersive, multilayered narratives that aim to reveal invisible histories and perspectives. At the same time, people experienced challenges in creating, maintaining, and distributing their AR experiences to audiences. We discuss open questions and opportunities for creating AR tools and experiences for social change.