Will Security Challenges Inhibit the Future Prospects of Virtual Reality?
Globally, the Virtual Reality (VR) industry is expected to touch US$33.9 billion by 2022 (Goldman Sachs, 2015). According to CCS Insight, VR-friendly software content will drive mass adoption in industries like healthcare, military and defence, and aerospace manufacturing, among others. However, this robust growth potential is accompanied by some alarming risks.
With an estimated 25 billion connected devices by 2020 (Gartner 2014), comes the great responsibility of overcoming security challenges. The military and defence sector has embraced VR technology for virtual combat training along with military application akin to immersive flight simulations, and battlefield medical training. Healthcare has also been actively using VR to eliminate risks and costs involved in medical training. Hence, these industries become more prone to data and privacy breaches, compromising their security network.
Today, an individual’s private data like family details, financial information, and medical history is almost freely available, posing as a threat from the hacking community. The apps that one downloads, as a regular activity, with GPS tracking has further reduced privacy on their smartphones. Recently however, VR has taken privacy invasion to a new level by studying the brain waves emitted by the user during physical movement. This has lead to newer concerns for consumers who don’t completely understand the red flags hiding in plain sight from using VR devices.
Vast amounts of data being shared through VR devices like Oculus Rift in real time, coupled with the easy access to social profile and personal information, leaves individuals exposed and vulnerable to cyber bullying or even stalking in ordinary social settings. VR devices can also collect information of users like location, purchase history, physical movements, among others, to monitor and improve its functioning capabilities. On-demand sharing of data leaves individuals exposed to an increased risk of cybercrime including identity theft and fraud. Currently, the need of the hour is to proportionately invest in improving the security systems surrounding VR technologies.
For example, location tracking is a key element of Pokemon GO’s functionality. Within a month of its launch, there has already been an incident in the USA where this was used to lure players to a remote location, where they were robbed at gunpoint (Virtual Reality News, 2016).
Identity Theft seen in Sci-fi movies can become a real thing! Similar to the credential data breaches that companies increasingly suffer during cyberattacks, in the virtual world things may get worse. Intruders will be able to get their hands not only on usernames and passwords, but also on the user’s physical identity. With all biometric data in possession, it ends up being easy to steal a person’s identity. Companies that safeguard such information may therefore face greater risks than those found in the age of credential theft
According to the Market Pulse Report on the UK AR/VR industry published by GrowthEnabler, the projected growth of the VR technology is unbeatable and has immense potential to capture a number of industries. However, when it comes to the security challenges there are a few recommendations that can catapult the growth from a holistic approach.
Product innovation and R&D is essential
VR technology is at an early stage of development when compared to established mainstream technologies. For innovators, there is a need for at least 60% of investment funds to be focused on R&D, product innovation, roadmap developments, and user-centric design to drive mass market adoption. New technology advancements, along with the ever lowering cost of hardware, should make this process manageable.
Build a seamless and personalised user experience
Personalisation and cross-device usability through multi-platform development standards ensure that users spend more time engaging with the product wherever or whenever across platforms. Understanding the flow of end-to-end user journey and diverse user personas can be useful in user centric product design. Adding the element of security by encrypting every transmitted information builds user confidence and experience.
Develop an ecosystem of startup partners for continuous product, operation, and customer innovation
Corporate houses must chart out the path to current and future product, service or technology innovation by investing in development of startup ecosystems. These ecosystems aid a continuous innovation cycle for product, service, and technology roadmap upgradation with the ultimate goal to increase speed to market and revenue growth.
Making VR Safer
Before adopting VR or any new IoT technology, companies should examine the track record of the manufacturer of the hardware and how the firmware software has been hardened to protect against external malicious factors.
The full ARVR report can be downloaded from our website: www.growthenabler.com.