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The Center for Responsible Decentralized Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley created a virtual escape room that I was in. Each task requires me to open a door. My goal is to move from virtual room to virtual room,unlock doors by solving puzzles that involve creative thinking, memory skills and physical movements, all naturallyintegrated into the experience.

Louis Rosenberg inside a Virtual Escape Room created by researchers at U.C. Berkeley (2022)

The experience was created by a research lab so you might think it was less than it really is. While I was working on the puzzles, the researchers were using my actions and reactions to figure out a lot of information about me. There is a lot of personal data that any third party could have obtained from my participation in a virtual application.

You would think that the data collected would not have surprised me, as I have been warning about the hidden dangers of virtual and augmented reality for a long time. You wouldn't be right. It is one thing to warn about the risks in the abstract, but it is another thing to experience the privacy issues in person. It was shocking at the time.

The personal data they were able to glean from my short experience in the escape room is what I want to discuss. The researchers were able to triangulate my location with the help of metaverse applications. Most people think their location is known when they connect online, but it is a privacy concern.

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The researchers were able to use my interactions in the escape room to predict my height, the length of my arms, my age, my gender, and how quickly I could crouch down. The researchers were able to assess my cognitive acuity, my visual acuity, and the size of the room that I was in.

It is important to point out that the researchers used standard hardware and software to implement the tests.

There wasn't any protection until the researchers built a software tool called "MetaGuard" that can be installed on standard virtual reality systems. The tool can be used to hide the parameters that were used to profile my physical characteristics. It works by injecting randomized offsets into the data stream, hiding physical parameters, which otherwise could be used to predict age, gender and health characteristics.

MetaGuard Image from Nair and Garrido

Users can hide their location by disrupting triangulation techniques with the help of MetaGuard.

Basic rights for users around the world should be protected at the same time. Meta's next virtual reality headset will include face and eye tracking. The same data could also be used to track and profile user emotions, since these new capabilities are likely tounlock very useful features in the metaverse. This could allow platforms to build models that anticipate how individual users will react to a wide range of circumstances, as well as allowing adaptive advertisements that are tailored for persuasion.

The metaverse has the potential to be a deep humanizing technology that presents digital content in the form most natural to our perceptual system.

Louis Rosenberg is a pioneer in the field of virtual and augmented reality Thirty years ago, his work began in labs at NASA andStanford. The first interactive augmented reality system was created in 1992. He founded the company in 1993 He started Outland Research in 2004. He was a professor at California State University and was awarded over 300 patents for virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

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