Let’s say you wear AR glasses at a public event, and it shares your location and personal info without you knowing. It’s like someone telling everyone about you without even asking. Or, being immersed in virtual reality, you start to encounter health issues, such as motion sickness due to extended headset use. That’s not okay, right?
The market demand for VR/AR headsets impacts spatial computing, and exploring the world of spatial computing can be a thrilling journey, offering new dimensions of experiences and interactions, so everyone who wants to enter this space needs AR/VR headsets. However, with every technological leap comes a set of challenges and potential risks that demand our attention.
In this article, we’ll delve into the risks associated with spatial computing, shedding light on the potential drawbacks that accompany these groundbreaking technologies, such as privacy concerns, security risks, ethical concerns, and health risks. Keep reading to find out what to be wary of.
We all care about our privacy, but we must understand that spatial computing relies a lot on collecting and analyzing vast amounts of user data to create immersive and personalized experiences. However, the extensive data usage of users’ biometric data (movements, gestures, facial expressions), location, and interactions raises significant privacy issues. These intricate data points provide a comprehensive profile of an individual’s physical and emotional state during spatial computing experiences.
Besides, the reliance on location data raises additional privacy challenges. Spatial computing often utilizes GPS and other location-based technologies to map out digital experiences in alignment with the user’s physical surroundings. While this allows features like real-time traffic updates and location-based gaming, the ethical use of such location data becomes a gray area without clear user consent. This data, when accumulated over time, can create detailed geographical footprints, potentially revealing sensitive information about users’ homes, frequented places, and routines.
So, what should spatial computing service providers do in this case?
Well, let´s take a look at what Apple does. Apple uses Optic ID, a cutting-edge technology that authorizes purchases and unlocks passwords through iris recognition. Crucially, this Optic ID data is encrypted, never leaving the user’s device, and is exclusively accessible to the Secure Enclave processor. Apple also ensures privacy in spatial experiences by processing data from cameras and sensors at the system level, eliminating the need for individual apps to access users’ surroundings. Furthermore, Apple’s commitment to privacy extends to eye input, which remains confidential and is not shared with Apple, third-party apps, or websites. Only the users’ final selections are transmitted, providing a robust safeguard for privacy in spatial computing.
Ethical considerations hold significant sway in the expansive domain of spatial computing, influencing and shaping societal norms. The adoption and integration of spatial computing technologies introduce a myriad of ethical dilemmas that demand thoughtful scrutiny.
For instance, a recent unfortunate incident occurred. British police are investigating a potential case of sexual assault in the metaverse involving a child under 16 whose avatar was reportedly gang-raped in a virtual reality game. The incident raises concerns about safety in virtual environments, particularly on Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform, which has faced previous accusations of sexual harassment.
Therefore, we recognize that spatial computing, the metaverse particularly, is the new and exciting innovation that we unquestionably need. Striking a delicate balance between pushing the boundaries of technological innovation and upholding ethical responsibility emerges as a central challenge. As spatial computing continues to evolve, the ethical dimensions gain prominence, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive framework that ensures these advancements contribute positively to society. Navigating this intricate terrain requires a collective commitment to ethical principles, fostering a future where technological innovation aligns harmoniously with ethical considerations.
As spatial computing continues to shape the future of digital experiences, security just as privacy, is equally important for users. First and foremost, the expansive integration of AR/VR into our physical surroundings requires a comprehensive understanding and management of cybersecurity threats.
Malicious attacks on spatial environments
Cybercriminals may exploit vulnerabilities in spatial computing systems to launch attacks on users’ augmented or virtual reality experiences. This could include manipulating digital objects, altering user perceptions, or injecting malicious content into the spatial environment.
Spatial computing involves the collection and processing of user data, including biometric information, movements, and interactions, as was mentioned above. Cybersecurity threats may target this sensitive data, leading to unauthorized access, data breaches, and privacy violations.
Unauthorized access to spatial devices
Spatial computing devices, such as AR/VR headsets, may become targets for unauthorized access. Hackers could exploit vulnerabilities in device software or communication protocols to gain control over these devices, potentially compromising user safety and privacy.
Manipulation of AR overlays
In AR scenarios, where digital content overlays the physical world, cybersecurity threats may involve manipulating or injecting deceptive information into users’ augmented views. This could lead to misinformation, confusion, or even safety risks if users rely on inaccurate augmented information.
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
Cybercriminals may attempt to disrupt spatial computing experiences through DoS attacks, causing system malfunctions, slowdowns, or interruptions. Such attacks can negatively impact user immersion and the overall reliability of spatial computing applications.
Social engineering and phishing
Spatial computing environments may give rise to new forms of social engineering and phishing attacks, where cybercriminals exploit the immersive nature of virtual spaces to deceive users. This could involve tricking users into revealing sensitive information, making unauthorized transactions, or engaging in harmful behaviors.
The use of VR headsets introduces certain health risks that users should be mindful of. Some people have already experienced headaches, eye strain, dizziness, or nausea. These symptoms, collectively known as “cyber sickness” or “virtual reality sickness,” result from the sensory mismatch between what the eyes perceive in the virtual world and the body’s physical sensations.
In a recent study conducted by the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, researchers unveiled the prevalence and consequences of cybersickness in VR environments. Their findings indicate that approximately 20 – 80% of VR users have reported experiencing cybersickness or related discomfort, impacting the usability and acceptance of VR systems.
How exactly does it happen? The immersive nature of virtual experiences, combined with the close proximity of the screens to the eyes, can contribute to eyestrain and fatigue. Besides, the disconnect between visual stimuli and the body’s motion can trigger motion sickness-like symptoms.
3 main tips on how to mitigate cybersickness
- Select the suitable headset: Opt for a VR headset that aligns with your preferences and minimizes the risk of motion sickness. Headsets with 6 Degrees of Freedom (6DOF), like the Oculus Quest, offer better orientation as the virtual scene moves with your head or body.
- Take a sitting down position: Using VR while sitting down restricts body movements, reducing the risk of disorientation caused by real-life movements conflicting with VR visuals. It enhances postural stability, especially for new VR users.
- Slowly increase VR time: Adaptation is key. Slowly increase the time spent in VR, starting with shorter durations and progressively extending sessions. Building familiarity helps the body adjust to the sensory input, reducing the likelihood of motion sickness over time.
Key industry players are diligently tackling the various concerns highlighted in our article. By consistently addressing issues related to privacy, security, health risks, and usability, these companies aim to create an immersive spatial computing environment that is increasingly personalized and adapted to individual preferences.
While everyone is excited about how fast spatial computing is growing, it’s important to know that there are risks involved. To make the most of it, pick the right device and make sure you understand everything about it before start using it.
Stay curious and enjoy the journey!