How Digital Media and Augmented Reality Change Our Perceptions of Public Spaces

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?

AR changes our perception

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.

AR in the park

With the selection of two highly controversial public spaces in Austria as test sites - the Rapoldi Park in Innsbruck and the Venediger-Au-Park in Vienna - DigitAS will bring a much needed academic perspective to the highly topical debates on security and surveillance of public spaces. The results of the project will be presented to the public and the authorities in two scenario workshops in Innsbruck and Vienna. In these workshops, the DigitAS team would like to discuss desirable future scenarios for the development and necessary regulation of augmented and virtual reality together with all invited stakeholders.


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 - 03/2021

Project team