Augmented Social Expression of Identity

Undergraduate project presented at ACM VRST 2023

Figure 1: Examples of filters from our user study. From left-to-right: 1. sunflower badge and name badge, an informative filter intending to make disabilities more visible to others; 2. Angels on the shoulder, question mark above head - examples of extended reality augmentations on/around the body; 3. Mid-length coat - an example of extended reality augmented fashion; 4. Sports logo on shirt - an example of sponsored, branded augmentations; 5. Lipstick and skin smoothing, filled-in eyebrows and eyeliner - examples of aesthetic modifications of appearance in-line with existing social norms around the use of makeup and minor cosmetics; 6. Cartoon-ified head and hair - an example of a more extreme augmentation of appearance where human likeness is retained, but the portrayal becomes progressively more unreal

Mass adoption of Everyday Augmented Reality (AR) glasses will enable pervasive augmentation of our expression of social identity through AR filters, transforming our perception of self and others. However, despite filters prominent and often problematic usage in social media, research has yet to reflect on the potential impact AR filters might have when brought into everyday life. Informed by our survey of 300 existing popular AR filters used on Snapchat, Instagram and Tiktok, we conducted an AR-in-VR user study where participants (N=24) were exposed to 18 filters across six categories.

We evaluated the social acceptability of these augmentations around others and attitudes towards an individuals augmented self. Our findings highlight 1) how users broadly respected another individuals augmented self; 2) positive use cases, such as supporting the presentation of gender identity; and 3) tensions around applying AR filters to others (e.g. censorship, changing protected characteristics) and their impact on self-perception (e.g. perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards). We raise questions regarding the rights of individuals to augment and be augmented that provoke the need for further consideration of AR augmentations in society.

This work was published at ACM VRST 2023, see (Bonner et al., 2023)


  1. identity-paper.gif
    When Filters Escape the Smartphone: Exploring Acceptance and Concerns Regarding Augmented Expression of Social Identity for Everyday AR
    Jolie Bonner, Florian Mathis, Joseph O’Hagan, and Mark McGill
    In ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology (VRST 2023), 2023