The increasing adoption rate of new information technologies implies a radical breakthrough in our society. Smartphones, tablets or laptops are something common even to people less used to such devices. Being able to have a computer in the palm of anybody’s hand opens a door to lots of possibilities, being augmented reality one of the most promising ones.
We live with tools capable of retrieve information from the environment thanks to their multiple built-in sensors: cameras, microphones or GPS sensors are just a few examples present in every modern phone. The device is capable of using this data to create a virtual experience which can improve certain tasks in education, work or everyday life.
Google’s Project Glass takes advantage of augmented reality in order to provide the user with information about the environment: maps, Internet searches, data from the surroundings.
Augmented reality, in contrast to other virtual environment technologies, takes advantage of the real world and adds information on top of it, which makes it possible to virtually modify their environment and interact in new ways.
However, this increasing trend comes with several concerns, specially regarding the ease to retrieve information from big collections of data, knowledge that sometimes may involve personal information. NameTag, a Google Glass application that displays publicly available information using face recognition has recently originated some controversy being seen as a violation of privacy. Altough the access to such pieces of data is easier everyday, in most cases the ultimate responsible is the user. The information present on a social network, web site or database has been voluntarily added by his or her owner, and therefore the responsibility lies on the user that uploads it. This is the reason why we should be careful with what we publish on the Internet, since we are doing this every single day, and consecuently, making it public and allowing anybody to access it.
If we think of all the benefits that the combination of augmented reality and big data sources brings, for example, facial recognition, it is clear that a new world of possibilities is in front of us. For example, Police could benefit from these devices using face recognition to identify in real time people with criminal charges. Using the information publicly available on the Internet it is possible to do this and much more.