The cameras on our Smarthphones can do much more than take pictures. How digital media and augmented reality change our perception of public spaces is the objective of the DigitAS project. With the participation of the public, it deals with future scenarios for the development and necessary regulation of virtual and augmented realities.
How does a tweet, Facebook post or YouTube video influence our opinion about a public park? And what if we use augmented reality (AR) technologies to receive such messages in real time and on the spot? How would this "augmented reality" change our use of public space, our sense of security, our interaction with others in public space, and thus the cohesion of society? And if we react very emotionally to digital media that represent public spaces positively or negatively, how vulnerable are we to manipulation?
We are living in the midst of a spatial revolution in which online and offline worlds are growing together more and more. Digital media are already shaping our perception of spaces, e.g. through navigation systems that structure our geographical reality, through social media that bombard us with photos, videos and comments tagged with cities, restaurants or sights. With the latest leap in augmented reality technology, our perception of space will once again fundamentally change. The research gap on the effects of this development on the individual and society as a whole is large. However, there is a lack of methods to adequately grasp and understand how digital content affects the affective-emotional experience of space. The DigitAS research project - abbreviated to "The Digital, Affects and Space" - aims to develop new methods to address these pressing issues and create the infrastructure for future collaborative research and education in this field.
By selecting two highly controversial public places in Austria as test sites - Rapoldi Park in Innsbruck and Venediger-Au Park in Vienna - DigitAS has brought a much-needed academic perspective to the highly topical debates on security and surveillance of public spaces. Here, the team from the University of Innsbruck developed a new data collection method to make eye tracking usable for research outside the lab in real-world environments.
Whether a breakthrough application will be developed in the near future that puts AR in the spotlight is uncertain and difficult to estimate. The DigitAS team therefore developed, on the basis of several expert interviews, possible scenarios of how AR could be used in public space in the future: from participatory urban design to innovative wild growth in the creative industry to individual monitoring by tech companies to the control of public opinion, e.g. by states. The scenarios describe interactions and dependencies between technology, politics and society and show political and societal need for intervention.
Behind the term "digitisation" lies a series of concepts to make analogue data available for further digital processing - and thus also easy to share with others. This also applies to older text and image material. The Austrian Academy of Sciences supports the development of the humanities with the program go!digital for the third time this year.
04/2019 - 03/2022