Immersive Technology Standards – Trust and Safety


The mass adoption of immersive technologies is changing our lives, offering new opportunities, and posing new threats. The large amount of data we deal with, and the expanding attack surface, require us to build trust to a new degree, beyond the traditional concepts of privacy and security. We need a new mindset that incorporates all dimensions of the attack surface, whether it is hygiene for sharing headsets, preventing dizziness and fall due to motion sickness, or minimizing abuse of data and privacy. XR requires us to understand the associated risks in terms of safety, which incorporates privacy and security but also takes into account physical and psychological harm.

Access to XR experiences is progressively becoming more attainable and cost-effective, and some immersive experiences can be as realistic as the “real” world experience. That’s why we need to protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, by creating standards that encourage preventive design, solutions, resources, and tools. The abuse or misuse of XR technologies can cause risks and effects on a physical, emotional, developmental, and material level. The rapid adoption of XR, without appropriate standards, research, and guidelines is particularly problematic for children as their brains are not fully developed. Take for instance, the fact that the industry has not yet established the appropriate age for children to be exposed to virtual reality, nor for how long they should experience a particular platform or virtual environment. Children’s safety online has suddenly become more urgent and we need to ensure a special focus is being given to protect children from harm, as they get exposed to XR.

Privacy and security also remain critical to the mission of creating trust. XR technologies have the potential to record all new kinds of user information, from eye movements and emotions to the movement of a user’s entire body through space, so the data must be managed responsibly.
When we talk about “data” in XR, we’re talking about an ocean full of information on any given object, place, or individual. Consumer VR systems typically track body movements 90 times per second to display the scene appropriately, and high-end consumer systems record 18 types of movements across the head and hands. Consequently, spending 20 minutes in a VR simulation leaves just under 2 million unique recordings of body language. Given the enormous amount of data collection and blurred lines of accountability, privacy and data protection has become more complex than ever, and clarity around data ownership, usage, and meaningful consent is more urgent.

XR technologies broaden the range of ways in which a person’s identity, as well as public and private assets, can be at risk. The attack surface has expanded, and with the rise of data breaches and hacking, security is at stake, to the point that XR is considered one of the top 10 privacy risks to watch in 2020 by members of the Future of Privacy Forum.