What does Congress want from smart helmets, HoloLens, and Pokémon Go?


    Yesterday afternoon, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation met with representatives from the world of augmented reality for the first Congressional hearing on the industry. That included general counsel from the Entertainment Software Association; the CEO of AR helmet company Daqri; and John Hanke, CEO of Niantic — the company behind this summer’s massive hit game Pokémon Go.

    Depending on how you define it, augmented reality has implications for everything from privacy to distracted driving. But while senators expressed some criticism, they were also clearly interested in how AR could expand the economy and solve various social woes. The answers participants gave may not be surprising to most people who follow the industry, but the questions show us how Congress might regulate — or not regulate — a technology that’s by turns exciting, baffling, and creepy. Here are a few of the most relevant ones.

    Will hackers edit our reality?

    Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) asked a very specific version of this question: if an airplane pilot is using augmented reality, “could a hacker make a digital flock of birds … as if it were flying through the windshield of the airplane? And what can we do about that?”

    “I think as the technology gets better the simple answer is — yes, we could make virtual objects that are indistinguishable from the real world,” responded Daqri CEO Brian Mullins. “There will certainly be new opportunities with augmented reality for exploitation by bad actors, as there is with any new…

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