Virtual Reality - Where nobody judges you ...

The purpose of this research is to re-define possibilities of achieving the privacy as part of the “home” feeling and as a basic human right. We will identify primary factors leading to the need of such a redefinition of privacy, and it’s positioning within the new context based on the main mega-trends. Through the identification of these key attributes of privacy related to “home,” we will explore speculative scenario and product design fiction.

Author Keywords

Privacy, human rights, home, the feeling of home, virtual reality, augmented reality.

ACM Classification Keywords

Design, human factors, theory.


Globalization, demographic changes, urbanization, technology changes and climate change and sustainability have a significant impact on a definition of what we consider “home.” All those factors do limit our experience of home and with that comes the need to re-create some of the attributes of the home. All those circumstances, different reasons, different lives, all have one thing in common: it is the privacy. Home, for the majority of us, represents an ultimate condition, where and when privacy happens.

What is home?

Home. There is something to be said for having a space that you call home. It grounds you both in social and cultural ways; it helps us to define ourselves. As much as our home is a reflection of who we are, it also becomes a mirror for larger social consequences. While we may add our personal touches to our homes decorating it with items such as furniture or objects of private desires, the overall structure, and function follow broader elements of social norms. [1] Be it ever so humble, it's more than just a place. It’s also an idea —one where the heart is [2]
So what is home? According to short questionary held of Facebook (fig.1), respondents described their definition of home as the most personal item ever, such as the memories of grandmas cookies, the collection of things we love to touch and adore, the place where we can dance. It is the most intimate and abstract relation we probably may have with an object or location. It is the place of relief, safety, and solitude.
Above all of the mentioned classifications, there was one quoted most frequently and in some unique forms: The privacy.

The home and the privacy

Apparently, both the home and solitude enable us to regulate the processes that serve to selectively control access of external stimulations to one’s flow of information to others. [3] Being at home seems to be substantially supporting activities such as deep reading, or experiencing the beauty of art. And it is also thinking and creativity, which requires controlled solitude at most. [5] Solitude, specifically when happening in the
home environment, is something we intentionally look for. And while loneliness is imposed on us by others, the solitude restores our body and mind. Loneliness depletes them. [6] Home also allows us to maintain our personal bubbles, constructed and monitored by the amygdala, the brain region involved in fear. [4]
With a clear understanding of importance above mentioned facts, it should be no surprise that terms of "privacy and home" are also well anchored in article 8 of human rights: The right to respect for your home does not give you a right to housing. It is a right to enjoy your existing home peacefully. This means that no one, including public authorities, should not stop you entering or living in your home without exquisite reason, and they should not enter without your permission. This applies whether or not you own your home. Right to respect for the home includes a right not to have one’s home life interfered with, including by unlawful surveillance, unlawful entry, arbitrary evictions, etc. [9]

Re-defining the home and privacy

Globalization, demographic changes, urbanization, technology changes and climate change and sustainability have a significant impact on a definition of what we consider “home.” As described in several global mega-trends reports, there are radical shifts in urban and infrastructure development, population growth, along with resourcefulness, that will be the leading factor of change the way we live, the way we also define the home. [7] [8]
All those factors will apparently limit our experience of the home and will introduce the requirement to re- create some of the attributes of the home.

Understanding the New Home

Decluttering movement, or minimalism in an example, are the trends already affecting the physical aspect of the home and, therefore, they become natural sources of inspiration and experience. In the example, the decluttering movement works in parallel with stuff being cheaper, more plentiful, and more disposable than ever—all while we are reaching our financial, geographical, and environmental limits when it comes to having homes large enough to fit all this stuff inside. [10]
Such an acceptance of this lifestyle may result to voluntary or even forced relinquish of certain objects typically used as personal home decoration, or may have a negative emotional impact or it even may reduce our natural access to the sensation of the privacy. Removing these items from our life will inevitably cause a radical change in the way we experience values related to “home.”
There are certainly dozens er of objects that help us to create the feeling of home, privacy, safety or harmony. Items such decorative furniture, art, memorable, souvenirs. These objects are mostly non-life-essentials, and they are often related to intellectual activities or spirituality. Books, records, art, and also talismans, amulets, or memorable.
As both movements represent coherent activity, they might be insufficient as an example of an experience with the concept of the home with limited space and personalization options. We have to look at other examples to see the broader picture. So let's take a look at some recent and common life scenarios which may represent such an experience.
- Living in overcrowded cities The life in future urban structures will immensely challenge the logistic, energy, and waste management, recycling ... which may lead to general restrictions on
private/personal lifestyle. Minimalisms may become life-maintaining requirement, if not mandatory practice. By inability to access emotion-building objects (such as furniture), the sense of belonging or feeling home might be obviously hard to reach. [11]
- Life on the space station (or remote science basecamp, long distance freight ship) The space exploration always controls and decreases the amount of goods due to its weight limitations. As the space travel may take humankind away from its home planet for months or years, the living might be reduced down to life essentials. The inability to access personal objects (furniture, decorations, books, dishes) or experience solitude in a privacy is evident and the sense of belonging or feeling home could be impossible to reach. [14]
- Frequent traveling, digital nomads. Similar to the case of space travel, we experience temporary inability to access everyday objects (furniture, decorations, books), and the sense of belonging or feeling home becomes difficult to reach.
- Prison. Limited access above-mentioned objects (furniture), that personal sense of belonging or feeling home, is part of the penalty.
In almost all of the mentioned cases, the feeling of home is often reduced down to a single object. There are multiple evidences of personals photos, religion items, toy, book, musical instrument or a talisman serving as an intimate item replacing the generic feeling of a privacy.

Achieving privacy with technology

Today, the meaning of privacy in the technological context is usually understood as the protection of personal data and our online activity. It protects our
privacy from the abuse of society, corporations, and government and it represents solid business segment. [16] It’s importance is unexceptionable, but it doesn't help us to build that required feeling of privacy, to create that sense of safety we are talking about. In order to design such a method of achieving the personal privacy, we had to take basic premises and goals of privacy and solitude into consideration. Then we could construct the clear concept of an electronic device that might be able to support the re-creation of privacy in these limited conditions. These premises are following: Virtual replacement of the teal home equipment (furniture, books, decoration.), visual and audible separation.
The initial idea of non-physical furniture and home decoration was relatively easy to prototype using the recently available virtual reality headset (HTC Vive) and creative software (Google's Tiltbrush,
https:// The setup required the dedicated room-size environment and relatively powerful computer, which makes such a solution temporary limited to fixed physical space. (https:// Not to mention that such a prototype lacks interaction with virtual objects at the haptic level, as such a technology is currently unavailable and remains at science fiction territory. Although with the current announcements predicting that this technology to be available in the not too distant future, we may consider it feasible. (http://
Making such a device portable and personal will be the much more challenging goal. As we've mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of privacy is to regulate the processes that serve to selectively manage access to outside flow of information. [3] We aim to reach these conditions basically anywhere (including public or open spaces). As these are typical for natural homes (In the meaning of the house or the room.), we principally need to re-create these two main components:
Bidirectional separation and canceling of both visual and sound environments. In terms of audio privacy, there are already few products on the market and some of them are being currently produced. Noise canceling is commonly available as an optional feature for headphones and mass production of spatial sound blocking technology (fig.1) just went through the successful funding campaign on Kickstarter. [13] As of visual privacy, the only technology being currently developed in this direction is based on personal holograms. (fig.2) Although at its early phase, the results are being repeatedly and publicly demonstrated, so it makes its commercial availability rather predictable.
As it was mentioned in previous chapter, objects such as books, family photos or toys may temporary help to re-build the sensation of privacy. As today’s smartphones can successfully provide an access to these items, combination with above-mentioned features would eventually offer the set of all required conditions to achieve home-like privacy basically anywhere. (fig.3)

fig. 2
fig. 3

Speculative scenario

Control over the access to personal privacy at the product or service level may cause loosing a direct control of it, as it may become a commodity, a market. Let’s take a brief look what may happen if we consider our product within the margins for current trends.

2016 Social media dominates the internet. The age of content sharing emerges, and it also begins to shape the value of personal data and privacy.

Privacy becomes the major issue. Corporations forbid the use of smart devices during meetings in order to prevent information leaks.

BlurbBerry celebrates its market comeback with SafeTeam device, the corporate privacy shield.

PinApple demonstrates once again their business sense with their iMe and weUs products. The personal and family privacy shields are integrated into their HomeKit and HealthKit ecosystems. Based on the visual and audio shield technologies, devices provide safety, privacy, and holovision.
Privacy becomes a luxury commodity.

Huiiiiwaaaiia and Smogsung present similar solutions for much lower price. The privacy seems to be again affordable.

iMe and WeUs are banned in China, as PinApple refuses to open the backdoor into the shielding.

Another disaster year for PinApple. The united global association of content providers sues PinApple for allowing distribution and broadcast of pirated and DRM- free content, and they request 100 billion USD as direct compensation and fee on any unit sold in the future.

It turns out that Huiiiiwaaaiia and Smogsung make money on their privacy devices with distributing the advertisements. This raises mass protests along the planet. The privacy should be inviolable!

United Nations together with US authorities and EU leaders sign the PRAGUE PRIVACY PACT, which defines the maximum amount of advertisement distributed via the personal privacy shield devices.

A small startup from Estonia wins the privacy market by selling users their very own content, into their home simulations, into their iMe and weUs modules as part of an advertisement time. The privacy is rescued again.


Although the privacy is a major component of mental health and it belongs among essential human rights, it might be possible that certain future scenarios will allow to achieve it in the only with the help of technology. Maybe we will be able to learn to meditate, to avoid the need for a privacy and reach that much- needed solitude using our willpower; we will be dependent on technology, and it is hard to imagine that it will happen to be available to everyone. As our human right.
Maybe the evolution of humankind will make privacy obsolete; maybe we will grow out of the need for privacy as our conciseness will become collective, but before that happens, we might need the technology that will help is to restore our body and mind. We only need to know the risks.


1. “Rethinking Home” with Citizen Anthropologists. (By Krystal D'Costa on July 15, 2014) from https:// 8220-rethinking-home-8221-with-citizen- anthropologists/
2. The Definition of Home. (By Verlyn Klinkenborg on May, 2012) from science-nature/the-definition-of-home-60692392/
3. The Concept of Privacy and its biological basis. (Peter. H. Klopfer and Daniel I. Rubenstein, Journal of
social issues, 1977), from ~dir/pdf_dir/1977_Klopfer_Rubenstein_JSocIssues.pdf
4. Why Do We Have Personal Space? (Natalie Wolchover, June 6, 2012), from http://
5. The joys of solitude. (Phil Daoust, February 2, 2010) from feb/02/joys-of-solitude-lonely
6. What Is Solitude? (Hara Estroff Marano, July 1, 2003), from articles/200307/what-is-solitude
7. Privacy as Human right:
https:// article-8-respect-your-private-and-family-life
8. Megatrends report: vwluassets/ey-megatrends-report-2015/$file/ey- megatrends-report-2015.pdf
9. Megatrends report: Portals/0/mega%20trands%20exec%20summary %20v3%20(1).pdf
10. The Genius of Marie Kondo ( Posted by Mark Armstrong, October 3, 2015)
https:// kondo-and-the-evolution-of-decluttering/
11. A New Look at Kowloon Walled City, the Internet's Favorite Cyberpunk Slum (By Derek Mead, April 3, 2014) from look-at-kowloon-walled-city-the-internets-favorite- cyberpunk-slum
12. Inside the fortress city (By Chris Kitching for MailOnline, PUBLISHED: 10:47 GMT, 22 May 2016) from article-3600482/Kowloon-Walled-City-blighted- overcrowding-poverty-crime.html
13. Spatial sound blocking,
https:// personal-zone-creator-with-noise-blockin/description
14. Life on ISS, 2014/11/04/international-space-station-explainer/
16. Privacy Is a Business Opportunity (David Hoffman
APRIL 18, 2014) from is-a-business-opportunity