Trustworthy Augmented Reality Glasses

Can we possibly trust augmented reality glasses?

Below you will find a checklist for determining whether the device that you wear on your face is worthy of your trust.

Each category has an introduction explaining why this aspect of AR glasses must be addressed in order to be trustworthy.

Each category has an "Information" section. To pass the test the information listed must be publicly and freely available for use, modification, and redistribution without violating copyright or intellectual property laws.

Finally, each category has a "Conformance test" section that lists how we can know whether a particular aspect of AR glasses is trustworthy.

Silicon and boards

As we've seen with recent news about international espionage via server hardware, it is possible for hardware manufacturers to make devices that secretly communicate below the level where software can detect it.

A device with secret or locked hardware is inherently untrustworthy.

Information:

Source material and manufacturing specifications for the many chips, boards, cameras, lights, connectors, wiring, cabling, antennas, and other electronic components that drive the headset.

Conformance test:

Multiple manufacturers take the specifications and produce interoperable and interchangable electronic boards and the systems that power them.

Neutral third parties evaluate the systems to determine whether they contain unknown back doors or communicate without the users' knowledge.

Display system

Because AR glasses cover your eyes and modify your view of the world it is important that you can trust what it shows you. As with the "Silicon and boards" section above, the only way to know that a display is trustworthy is to be able to inspect how it is made and how it operates.

Information:

Source material and manufacturing specifications for the waveguides, microdisplays, lights, and optical components such as polarizing beam splitters or collimating lenses that make up a display unit.

Calibration techniques and tooling specifications for the display system.

Conformance test:

Multiple manufacturers take the specifications and produce interoperable, interchangable, and calibrated display systems.

Neutral third parties evaluate the systems to determine whether they exert unknown control over users' vision.

Tracking system

The tracking system running on your AR glasses use forward facing cameras, infrared lights, and motion detection chips to figure out where you are relative to the world. In addition, they often use remote services to figure out where you are on Earth and to identify places where you've been before.

In order to trust a tracking system you need to know how this information is gathered, shared, and used over time.

Information:

Algorithms and data retention policies for determining the location, rotation, and motion of a headset, controller, or body part. This includes algorithms running on the headset as well as on remote services.

Calibration techniques and tooling specifications for the tracking system.

Conformance test:

Multiple manufacturers use the specifications to produce interoperable, interchangable, and calibrated tracking systems.

Neutral third parties evaluate the systems to determine whether the published algorithms and data retention policies are followed.

Software stack

Even after going through all of the trouble to find trustworthy hardware it makes no difference if the software running the show is hidden from you. Few people will comb through the layers of programs running your AR glasses, so the best way to ensure that your software can be trusted is to make certain that its source code is available for review by experts that you choose and that if they find something untrustworthy then you can easily choose different software.

Information:

The source code and build configuration for the stack of software that runs on the headset, on any peripherals, and on network services used by the headset.

Protocol specifications for communication between headsets, other devices, and service.

Conformance test:

Multiple software development teams create software stacks that can control every layer of the hardware from the initial boot loader up through the high level application programming interfaces.

Headset users can change to a different software stack without asking for anyone's permission or use of a key or password held by others.

Headsets using different stacks can communicate using common protocols.

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