Applications closed

Request for proposals on responsible innovation in AR/VR: “Consider Everyone”


Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) is pleased to invite university faculty to respond to this call for research proposals on exploring unique considerations in the rapidly growing space of AR, VR, and smart devices.

Augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) have the potential to change the way we work, learn, and connect with each other. However, many elements of the technology needed to build this future do not exist yet — and neither do many of the norms around their responsible development and use. At FRL, we are building the next computing platform centered around people and are committed to driving this innovation forward in a responsible, privacy-centric way. This is why we’ve crafted a set of principles for Responsible Innovation to guide our work at FRL and help ensure we build products that are designed with privacy, safety, and security at the forefront.

Facebook is soliciting proposals to help accelerate research that targets our third Responsible Innovation Principle, “Consider Everyone” (see Areas of Interest).

We aim to develop a broader and deeper understanding across the industry of how to balance the experience of both users and non-users of AR/VR products, with a focus on the potential for disproportionate harm to communities of color. We know there are nuanced trade-offs to consider around the wearer of AR/VR products and those who find themselves in their field of vision, and that these tradeoffs must account for the impact on vulnerable communities. We also know that we cannot address these challenges alone, and hope to work with researchers to inform and influence how we build our products.

Facebook is soliciting proposals to accelerate research on how user and non-user experiences differ across social groups and cultures, including non-U.S. based perspectives. We are considering non-users to be both those who do not own AR/VR devices (either by choice or circumstance) and also those who are bystanders to a user’s experience. A total of up to eight awards are available, worth up to $75,000 each. Payment will be made to the proposer’s host university in the form of a grant awarded by a third-party donor-advised fund, per the Terms & Conditions set forth below.

We strongly encourage researchers from diverse backgrounds and of diverse abilities to apply.

Award Recipients

Indian Institute of Science

Pradipta Biswas

University of Arizona

Bryan Carter

Syracuse University

T. Makana Chock

Birmingham City University (UK)

Chris Creed

University of Washington

Leah Findlater

Technical University of Munich

Gudrun Klinker

University of Sydney

Song Shuaiwen Leon

Georgia State University

Laura Salazar

Applications Are Currently CLosed

Application Timeline

Launch Date

September 16, 2020


October 29, 2020

Finalists selected

December 2020

Areas of Interest

Our third Responsible Innovation Principle, “Consider Everyone,” reads as follows:

In a world where augmented and virtual reality technology might someday be ubiquitous, it’s critical that we consider everyone who comes into contact with our products. We build products that are inclusive of our diverse community and design hardware that isn’t one-size-fits-all. Just like when the camera was invented and society established norms around when it was appropriate to take photos, we also need to consider people who aren’t using our products, such as by adding indicators when cameras are in use. We know we can’t do this alone, so we conduct user research and work with in-house and external experts.

Within the context of the “Consider Everyone” Principle, we are specifically interested in a set of topics related to non-user and bystander experiences in public and private spaces, across a variety of cultural and socioeconomic circumstances, with particular attention to communities that could be disproportionately impacted by misuse (e.g., communities of color).

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. What are the unique implications for bystanders who are members of an impacted or vulnerable group?

  • How can we build on our understanding of general bystander privacy concerns and develop a more segmented understanding of the impact of being a bystander for vulnerable groups (e.g., people of color, children, women, and so on)?
  • How should design decisions (e.g., how we signal that a device is capturing audio or video) address the needs of groups who may not feel empowered to confront owners?
  • How does one’s immigration status change the impact of being a bystander?

2. How do expectations of privacy change across public, quasi-public, and private spaces?

  • What frameworks exist for understanding what constitutes a private vs. general-use public space vs. specific-use public space? How can we apply them to norm-building around AR/VR technology?
  • What norms should be developed around the use of AR/VR technology in public spaces? How does this change for public spaces that disproportionately serve impacted communities (e.g., in low-income communities)? How does this apply to workplaces, as quasi-public spaces with unique expectations for privacy? How does this apply to places that are public for some but private for others, like outdoor spaces where under-housed or homeless people may live?
  • What research exists for defining social and cultural norms around private spaces, and how does that differ from culture to culture? How might this research apply to virtual spaces?
  • How can device wearers and/or owners of private spaces create social norms to govern how the public interacts with them?
  • In the context of AR/VR products that affect or incorporate businesses, what can business owners do to encourage or enforce best practices around respecting private spaces?

3. To what degree do cultural attitudes towards bystander privacy differ around the world, and how should that inform the way we think about privacy by design for AR/VR products?

  • How should we think about cultural attitudinal differences as they relate to privacy and emerging technology?
  • How do people’s understandings and attitudes towards ubiquitous recording change in different regions of the world? How does this differ across cultures, levels of economic development and market type, and government structure?
  • What constitutes private spaces? How do people’s understanding of what constitutes a private space vary across cultures within the U.S. and from a non-U.S. perspective?

4. How could AR/VR exacerbate or ameliorate tech-driven inequality and, more specifically, racial inequity?

  • What will it mean for society if some people have access to this technology and some people don’t? How might this exacerbate the digital divide?
  • How might ubiquitous cameras be a means of combating inequity and inequality? How might they contribute to inequity and inequality? How could products be designed to avoid contributing to inequity and inequality?
  • How might AR be used as a tool for social justice or economically disadvantaged communities?
  • How could AR be designed for low tech literacy?
  • How could AR be a tool for accessibility, to improve the lives and experiences of users with disabilities?


Proposals should include

  • A summary of the project (1–2 pages) explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, expected outcomes, and a timeline with milestones
  • A draft budget description (1 page) that includes an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent
  • Curriculum Vitae for all project participants
  • Organization details; this will include tax information and administrative contact details


  • Proposals must comply with applicable U.S. and international laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Applicants must be current full-time faculty at an accredited academic institution that awards research degrees to PhD students.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Facebook cannot consider proposals submitted, prepared, or to be carried out by individuals residing in, or affiliated with an academic institution located in, a country or territory subject to comprehensive U.S. trade sanctions.
  • Government officials (excluding faculty and staff of public universities, to the extent they may be considered government officials), political figures, and politically affiliated businesses (all as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion) are not eligible.

Terms & Conditions

Please read these terms carefully before proceeding.

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to Facebook RFP solicitations, including whether or not to grant an award and the interpretation of Facebook RFP Terms and Conditions. By submitting a proposal, applicants affirm that they have read and agree to these terms and conditions.

  • Facebook has partnered with Charities Aid Foundation America (“CAF America”) to administer awards under this RFP through a Donor Advised Fund. Under this arrangement, awards recommended by Facebook will be subject to review and approval by CAF America’s Board of Directors. Facebook’s recommendations are based on criteria determined by Facebook. Awards approved by CAF America will be subject to the terms and conditions contained in CAF America’s grant agreement. Applicants understand and acknowledge that they will need to agree to such additional terms and conditions to receive an award.
  • Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to Facebook RFP solicitations, including whether or not to recommend an award, and the interpretation of Facebook RFP Terms and Conditions. By submitting a proposal, applicants affirm that they have read and agree to these Terms and Conditions.
  • Facebook is authorized to evaluate proposals submitted under this RFP, to consult with outside experts, as needed, in evaluating proposals, and to recommend awards be made by CAF America using criteria determined by Facebook to be appropriate and at Facebook’s sole discretion. Facebook’s recommendations will be final in all matters relating to its RFPs, and applicants agree not to challenge any such decisions. All grants awarded by CAF America are made in CAF America’s sole and independent discretion and governed by CAF America’s grant agreement.
  • Facebook will not be required to treat any part of a proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce and distribute all or a portion of the proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the Facebook RFP website and evaluating the contents of the proposal. Facebook may also provide proposals submitted under this RFP to CAF America for review and evaluation.
  • Personal data submitted with a proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of the applicant and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook for the purposes of administering Facebook’s RFP website, evaluating the contents of the proposal, and as otherwise provided under Facebook’s Privacy Policy. Such personal data may also be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by CAF America for the purposes of evaluating the contents of the proposal and determining whether or not to approve an award recommended by Facebook.
  • Neither Facebook nor the applicant is obligated to enter into a business transaction as a result of the proposal submission. Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal.
  • Feedback provided in a proposal regarding Facebook products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to the applicant. The submission of a proposal will not result in the transfer of ownership of any IP rights.
  • Applicants represent and warrant that they have authority to submit a proposal in connection with a Facebook RFP and to grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization. All awards provided by CAF America in connection with this RFP shall be used only in accordance with applicable laws and shall not be used in any way, directly or indirectly, to facilitate any act that would constitute bribery or an illegal kickback, an illegal campaign contribution, or would otherwise violate any applicable anti-corruption or political activities law.
  • Any disputes arising from CAF America’s grant of an award are also subject to the grant agreement signed by the applicant with CAF America. In the event that any condition of the grant agreement conflicts with these terms and conditions, the conditions of the grant agreement will supersede these terms and conditions.

For questions related to this RFP, please email Kelly Forbes Marshall at