As we consider potential misuse and risks associated with augmented reality we can learn a great deal from past desktop applications and current iPhone and Android apps to gain insight into both human nature and technical possibilities.
From this analysis we identify at least three primary threat categories. The first category is simplest, current applications that are easily ported to future systems, with little to no augmentation. The next category includes hybrid threats that are likely to evolve due to enhanced capabilities provided by augmented reality.
The final category, and the hardest to predict, are entirely new applications which have little similarity to current applications. These threats will lean heavily on new capabilities and have the potential to revolutionize misuse. In particular, these applications will spring from widespread use, always on sensing, high speed network connectivity to cloud based data sources, and, perhaps most importantly, the integration of an ever present heads-up display, that current cell phones and tablets lack.
Regardless from which category new threats emerge, we assume that human nature and its puerile and baser aspects will remain constant, acting as a driving force for the inception of numerous malicious or inappropriate applications.
This section lists potential misuse applications for augmented reality. Of course, we do not mean to imply that Google or any other company would endorse or support these applications, but such applications will likely be in our augmented future nonetheless.
Persistent cyber bullying
In the world defined by Google Glasses users are given unparalleled customizability of digital information overlaid on top of the physical environment. Through these glasses this information gains an anchor into the physical space and allows associations that other individuals can also view, share, vote on, and interact with just as they would via comments on YouTube, Facebook, or restaurant review sites. Persistent virtual tagging opens up the possibility of graffiti or digital art overlaid upon physical objects, but only seen through the glasses.
However, hateful or hurtful information could just as easily be shared among groups (imagine what the local fraternity could come up with) or widely published to greater audiences just as it can today, but gains an increasing degree of severity when labeling becomes a persistent part of physical interactions.
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