More on Augmented Reality

Director Calo Testifies on Augmented Reality before U.S. Senate

Lab Faculty Co-Director, Ryan Calo, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation at a hearing exploring augmented reality. Watch the hearing here and read his testimony below.

“Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the promise and perils of augmented reality.

Augmented reality (AR) refers to a mobile or embedded technology that senses, processes, and outputs data in real time, recognizes and tracks real-world objects, and provides contextual information by supplementing—or in some cases, replacing—human senses. AR differs from so-called virtual reality in that AR users continue to experience most of their physical environment. AR has many positive applications, from training tomorrow’s workforce, to empowering people with disabilities. But the technology also raises novel or acute policy concerns that companies and policymakers must address if AR is to be widely adopted and positively affect American society.

The UW Tech Policy Lab is a unique, interdisciplinary research unit at the University of Washington that aims to help policymakers develop wise and inclusive technology policy. We have studied AR and its impact on diverse populations and discuss our findings in detail in the appended whitepaper Augmented Reality: A Technology and Policy Primer.

Our research suggests that AR raises a variety of question of law and policy, including around privacy, free speech, and novel forms of distraction and discrimination. For example: Will the constant recording of a user’s environment give hackers, companies, and government unparalleled access to the bedroom, the boardroom, and other private spaces? Could the superimposition of information over reality render the AR user vulnerable or unsafe? And are there situations—such as job interviews—where knowing everything about an individual could result in discrimination or subject the AR user to legal liability? Industry must design AR products with these and many other questions in mind.

Thank you again for the interest in our research and the opportunity to appear before the Committee. I look forward to your questions.”

PokemonGO and Policy for Augmented Reality Applications

With widespread adoption, PokemonGO has brought the novel policy considerations of augmented reality to a wide audience. Over the last week, members of the Lab have highlighted some of these issues. Co-Director Calo,  noted the novel nature of a game that requires players to physically travel and potentially actionable nuisance created by the developers (Verge). In an article in New Scientist, Emily McReynolds highlighted the benefits of including a diverse set of stakeholders in the design of these applications.

In the Tech Policy Lab’s Augmented Reality Law and Policy Primer we provide a preview of the policy implications of this developing technology and make conditional  recommendations. Our key findings included:

1. AR exists in a variety of configurations, but in general, AR is a mobile or embedded technology that senses, processes, and outputs data in real-time, recognizes and tracks real-world objects, and provides contextual information by supplementing or replacing human senses.
2. AR systems will raise legal and policy issues in roughly two categories: collection and display. Issues tend to include privacy, free speech, and intellectual property as well as novel forms of distraction and discrimination.
3. We recommend that policymakers—broadly defined—engage in diverse stakeholder analysis, threat modeling, and risk assessment processes. We recommend that they pay particular attention to: a) the fact that adversaries succeed when systems fail to anticipate behaviors; and that, b) not all stakeholders experience AR the same way.
4. Architectural/design decisions—such as whether AR systems are open or closed, whether data is ephemeral or stored, where data is processed, and so on—will each have policy consequences that vary by stakeholder.

Augmented Reality Primer

This whitepaper—which grows out of research conducted across three units through the University of Washington’s interdisciplinary Tech Policy Lab—is aimed at identifying some of the major legal and policy issues AR may present as a novel technology, and outlines some conditional recommendations to help address those issues. Our key findings include:

1. AR exists in a variety of configurations, but in general, AR is a mobile or embedded technology that senses, processes, and outputs data in real-time, recognizes and tracks real-world objects, and provides contextual information by supplementing or replacing human senses.

2. AR systems will raise legal and policy issues in roughly two categories: collection and display. Issues tend to include privacy, free speech, and intellectual property as well as novel forms of distraction and discrimination.

3. We recommend that policymakers—broadly defined—engage in diverse stakeholder analysis, threat modeling, and risk assessment processes. We recommend that they pay particular attention to: a) the fact that adversaries succeed when systems fail to anticipate behaviors; and that, b) not all stakeholders experience AR the same way.

4. Architectural/design decisions—such as whether AR systems are open or closed, whether data is ephemeral or stored, where data is processed, and so on—will each have policy consequences that vary by stakeholder.

Augmented Reality – Technology & Policy Primer

This whitepaper is aimed at identifying some of the major legal and policy issues augmented reality (AR) may present as a novel technology, and outlines some conditional recommendations to help address those issues. Our key findings include:

1. AR exists in a variety of configurations, but in general, AR is a mobile or embedded technology that senses, processes, and outputs data in real-time, recognizes and tracks real-world objects, and provides contextual information by supplementing or replacing human senses.

2. AR systems will raise legal and policy issues in roughly two categories: collection and display. Issues tend to include privacy, free speech, and intellectual property as well as novel forms of distraction and discrimination.

3. We recommend that policymakers—broadly defined—engage in diverse stakeholder analysis, threat modeling, and risk assessment processes. We recommend that they pay particular attention to: a) the fact that adversaries succeed when systems fail to anticipate behaviors; and that, b) not all stakeholders experience AR the same way.

4. Architectural/design decisions—such as whether AR systems are open or closed, whether data is ephemeral or stored, where data is processed, and so on—will each have policy consequences that vary by stakeholder.

Augmented Reality: Hard Problems of Law and Policy

Lab alumni Franziska Roesner, Tamara Denning, with Bryce Clayton Newell, and Directors Tadayoshi Kohno, Ryan Calo wrote “Augmented Reality: Hard Problems of Law and Policy” for the recent Workshop on Usable Privacy & Security for wearable and domestic ubIquitous DEvices (UPSIDE).

In this paper they describe their vision of AR and explore the unique and difficult problems AR presents for law and policy–including around privacy, free speech, discrimination, and safety.