Apple has been dropping major hints about working on augmented reality projects. If we know anything about Apple, this is an indicator that AR is about to be big. AR tech has many practical uses: Pokemon Go-esq gaming, design, and the potential to bring an iOS interface to your eyes. AR is generally safer than virtual reality because of its real-world integration and translucent layout. However, the technology still has hazards of its own!
The dangers of AR are more than meet your eye – literally
The most obvious peril of augmented reality, especially with wearables like Google Glass, is distraction! How can you cross the street safely with notifications popping into your line of vision? How can you ignore texts while driving if they’re in your face? Do I sound like your mom yet?! Really, though—AR is designed to keep the real world visible, but newsfeeds and notifications are still incredibly distracting mentally.
Another creepier danger comes with the fact that most AR wearables are equipped with cameras. This is awesome for finally getting the perfect shot, but not awesome if that shot is of someone who didn’t consent to getting their picture taken. Hopefully, future AR products will make camera use blatantly obvious to prevent this kind of thing from happening. For example, Snapchat’s Spectacles include a light into the glasses’ camera to warn other people that you’re taking a Snap.
Another frightening scenario: someone thinks you’re recording them, someone bigger than you who is potentially carrying a crowbar, but you’re actually checking out a dog or cool landscape behind them. Just be careful.
With Pokemon Go, we saw that AR gaming allowed for exploring your neighborhood in an entirely new light. Nevertheless, game designers and players need to be wary of trespassing private property. Imagine trying to explain how you ended up at a top-secret government headquarters to the FBI looking for Pokemon. (Actually, it could be likely that the FBI is hiding Pokemon from us.)
Finally, with any kind of addictive technology comes the risk of ignoring real life. It’s hard enough to be present as iPhone users. Wearable AR technology is on the horizon, and could make it even more difficult to be mindful of our true reality (TR?) environments.
Considering the hazards of augmented reality raises an interesting question. If AR gear does become commonplace, how will we regulate use—when driving, at work, in class, etc? Is it up to the individual, the designers, or the government to implement tech safety? It’s an important issue to consider when discussing wearable technology. Be safe, kids!