Think about our daily lives and all that comes with it. Your day might look different from someone else’s, but there are commonalities to most of our days. For the general population, they go to work, cook food, and run errands if necessary. I could go on with a list of common tasks. Point is, how many of these tasks are simplified given technology? We think back to an era without GPS or smartphones, and many of these tasks take longer than they do now. The World Wide Web changed how people operated and technology continued to advance from there–until now, where we cannot imagine our life without it. 

With that said, Augmented reality (AR) is trending upwards and will soon make a powerful impact on the way we behave. Emerging technologies such as AR will need to ensure that the user is the center of everything. The problem is, how can we make the user the center of everything without invading their privacy?

For advanced AR technology to work, it has to create a 3D model of the real world, and this can mean gathering tremendous amounts of information about us and our surroundings. This allows the system to overlay objects on the physical world in a realistic way. Yet, it is important to consider what happens with all this data. If it sends the information to a “cloud” could it be encrypted? Will this data be shared with third parties where they target us with ads, but on a much greater scale? The questions don’t stop there. 

Think about if you are holding a business meeting or connecting with someone for the first time for a job interview, would you want all your information easily accessible for them to see? This is for you to contemplate. Many people would agree that they don’t mind for a job interviewer to see their LinkedIn profile digitally as they enter the room, while others would disagree. This is just one real-world example of how levels of privacy could vary from person to person. As AR technology rolls out, it needs to be extremely considerate of each individual’s preferences.

The questions of human factors remain and how much we are willing to let AR technology into our private lives. Just like the internet, it will take some time to balance and govern the space to ensure the user’s best interest. 

In an article on the risks of AR, they make an outstanding point that, “as we marvel at the innovation and creative uses of AR, we have the opportunity to move forward with our eyes open to the risks, and with the intention of building a collaborative and participatory regulatory framework for the technology that can help mitigate those risks and serve humankind.”

Slowly but surely, we must tread this new space with caution and excitement as we progress forward into a world with immersive technologies.