Coupling wearable technology with virtual environments – with great power comes great responsibility

via Tim Marler

The value of emerging technology like AR/VR can increase substantially when combined with other technologies. However, such integration brings challenges in coordinating development and employing policy.

With the increased use of AR/VR for training, assessing performance becomes especially important.  This assessment can help reflect the fluency of a trainee as well as validity of the training technology.  In fact, much work at RAND has studied the use of VR for training and the appropriate alignment of training technology with training objectives. Wearable technologies can help with this performance assessment, and the DoD is embracing such technology.

To be sure, gathering data with wearable technology brings with it its own challenges, the least of which is not managing personal data.  Nonetheless, things like a common FitBit can help monitor the physiological effect of virtual environments or even the so-called Metaverse.  Yet, as the use of wearable technologies expands beyond just personal fitness, policy should be considered a priori rather than a posteriori.  Risks become particularly poignant as public persistent virtual environments (i.e., the metaverse) see greater adoption and lend themselves to targeted marketing. Who is allowed to monitor, store, and analyze data from virtual environments? Who has access to data gathered from wearables? Can outsiders see how you react to various situations or (virtual products)? Ideally, we should answer questions like these before, or at least as technologies are developed, integrated, and deployed to the public.

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