The landscape for extended reality is evolving at an incredible rate. By 2024, some studies indicate this diverse space could be worth as much as $300 billion. It’s not just consumers with a love of VR gaming accelerating the growth of XR, but companies and enterprises too.
Countless brands are now embracing Extended Reality as a tool for productivity, collaboration, and innovation. But as demand for this technology continues to expand, organisations need to ensure they have the right security and privacy strategies in place.
If you’re pursuing a future in XR, there are a few trending topics worth exploring when preserving safety and compliance in this new world. Let’s take a look at some of the major privacy and security trends you need to know about.
1. Photorealistic Avatars and Digital Identity
Inspired by the rising interest in the “Metaverse”, photorealistic avatars are becoming a common way for users to embed digital versions of themselves into the virtual world. The more detailed our avatars, the easier it is to engage with colleagues and contacts from around the world in an XR environment. Many of the most innovative tools can even capture facial expressions as we collaborate.
While photorealistic avatars are excellent for promoting bonding and bringing people together in digital environments, they present significant security concerns too. As AI systems become more powerful, there’s the potential for criminals to create “deepfake” versions of real people based on the avatars or images they see online. These could be used to gain access to sensitive data.
At the same time, the tools used for creating photorealistic avatars, like cameras and intelligent sensors, could also provide criminals with the tools they need to “steal” a person’s identity when data leaks take place. Companies will need to ensure the digital identities they leverage in XR are well protected from potential attacks.
2. The Ethics and Privacy of the Metaverse
The rising adoption of XR is also paving the way for a future of Metaverse innovations. We’re already seeing countless companies experimenting with what their version of the “metaverse” might look like, for customer service, events, and even “metawork”.
However, unlocking a new digital world full of unique interactions for users is bound to come with a few security and privacy issues. Already, innovators in the Metaverse are discussing the policies and guidelines necessary to keep the Metaverse safe for everyone. Conversations are being held around how companies can secure metaverse transactions, how much control people should have over changing their identity or appearance online, and how to protect digital IP.
Companies embracing XR with an eye on the future of metaverse interactions will need to think carefully about how they can make this new digital landscape as safe as possible. This will mean not only securing metaverse environment, but having discussions about ethics, inclusion, and privacy in an immersive space.
3. Secure Headsets and Devices
Building a secure environment in XR doesn’t just mean considering the movement of data on the internet, or how software collects and uses information. Companies also need to think about the security standards built into the devices they’re using.
For instance, many VR headsets and tools for MR and AR immersion are becoming increasingly impressive with the use of new displays, scanners, and trackers. However, as these tools continue to collect more information, businesses will need to be extra careful about how data is transferred to the internet, stored, and utilized.
For instance, collecting information from a set of AR smart glasses with the ability to scan a physical location in real-time may be excellent for boosting collaboration and productivity. However, it could also give criminals a behind-the-scenes look at a workplace if they’re able to tap into a video feed. Information collected from eye tracking and motion sensors could even provide malicious actors with the biometric details they need to access sensitive data.
All the while, companies need to ensure they’re investing in headsets users are safe using. This means considering everything from ergonomics, to how users can be kept aware of their surroundings when immersing themselves in different realities.
4. Eye and Hand Tracking
Eye, hand, gesture, and motion tracking are all becoming increasingly common in the XR space. As mentioned above, developers are implementing these new sensor-based technologies alongside Artificial Intelligence to make XR experiences more immersive. Used correctly, these tools can give users more control over virtual assets and content.
However, there are dangers with collecting too much information from any XR user. Not only do companies need to think about how that data is stored (either on the device or in the cloud), but they also need to think about the implications of capturing too much data. While capturing information about a user’s gaze or movements can offer useful insights into their behavior, it poses difficult questions about privacy protection and human rights.
Companies will need to ensure the “tracking” tools implemented into their XR environments don’t go against the regulations and restrictions imposed by concepts like GDPR. Every XR implementation should include an ethical discussion about how much data to track, capture, and store.
5. NFTs and IP Protection
Finally, as more companies enter the XR world, it will be important to think carefully about the cybersecurity policies they use to keep their virtual and digital data secure. The metaverse and the XR environment will open a new door for collaboration and productivity in a virtual space, allowing teams to create blueprints and new products in an immersive environment.
However, if the wrong people gain access to these virtual assets, this could lead to significant issues for companies from an Intellectual Property perspective. What’s more, as companies begin to publish their own virtual assets, NFTs, and creations in the metaverse, they’ll need to consider how they’re going to protect those assets from being stolen or copied.
Before XR environments can become truly mainstream, business leaders will need to ensure the right systems are in place to protect anything they create and use in a virtual world. This will become an even more crucial conversation as the metaverse evolves.