2022 Controls That Matter and Considering Everyone: High-Realism VR Avatars in Virtual Work Settings request for proposals

Funding Agency:

The exploration of realistic avatars is growing both in academia and industry. With these technical developments come ethical questions about data management and privacy, diversity and inclusion, agency and identity, societal impact, among other topics. These questions require careful consideration both early and often in the process of research and development.

As part of its work to build the future of connection in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), Reality Labs Research is developing Codec Avatars — highly realistic virtual representations of real people that could one day enable people to interact in VR as naturally as they do in the real world. Existing social VR and digital ethics research provides numerous thoughtful frameworks and guidelines for thinking through potential implications of such a space. However, there are very few concrete, published examples or case studies of teams applying social VR, values-based design, or digital ethics frameworks to emergent avatar technologies (in this case, highly realistic VR avatars) — that is, a shared body of knowledge of how teams have taken guidelines and translated them into their day-to-day work and decision-making.

In keeping with Meta’s Responsible Innovation principles“Never Surprise People,” “Provide Controls That Matter,” “Put People First,” and “Consider Everyone,” the Reality Labs research team in Pittsburgh is seeking case studies and examples related to the following topics: (1) how teams build controls that preserve future user agency over their data, such as the realistic avatar itself and information from headset cameras and other input used to pilot the avatar; (2) how teams explain to future users when the social signal (e.g., gestures, facial expressions, etc.) the VR system is conveying might not be accurate; and (3) how to improve the VR community’s access to tactical guidance about how to responsibly build in these spaces using existing frameworks and theoretical research.

To foster further innovation in this area, and to deepen our collaboration with academia, Reality Labs Research is pleased to invite faculty to respond to this call for research proposals pertaining to the aforementioned topics. We anticipate issuing up to a total of eight awards, with a maximum value of $75,000 each. Payment will be made to the proposer's host university as an unrestricted gift.

The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2022.

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

  • Awards must comply with applicable US and international laws, regulations and policies.*
  • Applicants must be currently employed at an accredited academic institution that awards research degrees to PhD students.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Applicants may submit one proposal per solicitation.
  • Organizations must be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code).

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences

External Deadline

March 31, 2022