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  • Lily Warden

Apple Vision Pro: Paramount Device or Privacy Nightmare?

By: Lily Warden


Technology is advancing at an exponential rate. Since the release of the first iPhone in 2007, technology has become easily accessible and smarter than ever. Apple recently made headlines with the release of its newest product, the Apple Vision Pro. The Apple Vision Pro is Apple’s first smart headset device. Apple describes the device as “a revolutionary spatial computer that transforms how people work, collaborate, connect relive memories, and enjoy entertainment.” Apple advertises that it “seamlessly blends digital content with the physical world and unlocks powerful spatial experiences in visionOS, controlled by the most natural and intuitive inputs possible user’s eyes, hands, and voice.” Since its announcement, Apple has been reported to have sold around 200,000 units in preorders.


Photo by Apple


The Apple Vision Pro is not the first augmented reality device to find its way into people’s hands. In 2013, Google released Google Glass, a wearable smart technology in the form of glasses. In 2017, Microsoft released the Hololens, which is an AR headset marketed for mixing technology and business.  


With so many augmented reality devices on the rise, people must know what this technology is. Augmented reality is the incorporation of digital information within a user’s environment in real-time. While virtual reality immerses a user in a computer-generated environment, augmented reality combines both the real-world surroundings and digital information.  


With the increasing popularity of augmented reality available to the public, concerns have risen about the technology. Particularly, one main concern is privacy. Because augmented reality devices combine a user’s physical environment with technology, users are concerned about what information the device is storing and who has access to that information.  


Concerning the Apple Vision Pro, Geoffrey A. Fowler, writer for the Washington Post, says in an article, “Each of these goggles contains the rough equivalent to a head full of iPhones: 2 depth sensors, 6 microphones and 12 cameras. It uses them to continually track people and rooms in three dimensions – every hand gesture, eyeball flick and couch cushion." Jake Moore, the global cybersecurity advisor at ESET, says “It is packed with sensors, cameras and microphones so it could be a nightmare to control in terms of privacy.”


Photo by The Washington Post


Users are concerned about what information Apple sees through the Apple Vision Pro and what it could be used for. Because of the technology within the Apple Vision Pro, users are worried that their homes and surroundings could become data that Apple has access to.  

 

With smarter technology, fears about privacy concerns are not outlandish. Amazon faced backlash in 2019 over their smart home device, Alexa, listening to and obtaining information when not in active use. Apple currently collects data about applications used and searches within Apple applications. With permission, Apple can track location information and health information

 

Another concern about augmented reality is the ability of hackers to obtain information from devices. Like any technology, augmented reality devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks and security breaches. A computer science team at the University of California, Riverside found spyware can recover hand gestures, voice commands and keystrokes on virtual keyboards by users on augmented and virtual reality devices with up to 90 percent accuracy.

 

Regarding privacy with the Vision Pro, Apple states “Data from cameras and sensors is processed at the system level, so individual apps do not need to see your surroundings to enable spatial experiences.” They also write “Eye input is not shared with Apple, third-party apps, or websites.” Since the Apple Vision Pro has not shipped to most consumers yet, time will tell if these privacy concerns are warranted. 

 

Technology is an ever-changing field and companies like Apple are at the forefront of leading change. Like any new technology, augmented reality comes with advantages and disadvantages. It is up to consumers to decide if augmented reality devices like the Apple Vision Pro are worth it, or worth losing privacy over. 

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