This week, Meta unveiled its latest VR headset, which, despite the $1,500 price of the Meta Quest Pro, was made public, but the new device has the potential to alter the future of remote work and internet collaboration.
The Meta Quest Pro, a mixed-reality headset geared towards professionals who want to engage in VR in a meaningful way, is now available with even more cameras to ensure better body and facial tracking.
Since the Meta Quest Pro can overlay digital content onto your real-world environment, the devices pro-level specifications and additional cameras will help you interact with other avatars in the Metaverse as well as with objects in the physical world.
According to a new Wired study (opens in a new tab) these developments raise many serious privacy concerns, especially when it comes to how the Meta Quest Pro collects personal data from users.
More cameras means more data points
While the Meta Quest 2 is equipped with four built-in infrared cameras, the Meta Quest Pro boasts 16 cameras. There are five cameras inside the headset as well as five on the inside, each with three cameras on each of the Touch Pro controllers.
The real concern about privacy is that eye tracking data will be shared with third-party applications.
These innovative interior cameras enable the Quest Pro to observe a user''s face and eye movements as well as their facial expressions. Lastly, these exterior cameras will allow the Quest Pro to show an avatar by copying their movements in the real world.
Meta now has more data points to work with when it comes to the Quest Pro. It will also know even more about your surroundings, not just about your facial expressions and vision.
The real concern about privacy is that eye tracking data will be shared with third-party apps, according to a Meta privacy notice (opens in a new tab) and the company is adding an eye-tracking icon next to apps that support this feature.
On the Quest Pro, the raw eye tracking image data is processed in real time and deleted once processing is complete. Meta also wont store this raw eye tracking image data on its servers. If you choose to delete your account, any additional data youve shared with the company will be deleted or disassociated from your account. However, as Wired warns, insights from those images may be processed and stored on Meta servers.
Natural Facial Expressions
Face tracking will be set to off by default when the Quest Pro will be launched on October 25, according to Western University assistant professor Luke Stark. This makes sense as the best experiences on the Quest Pro will likely include face and eye tracking, and Meta will want new users to see them for themselves.
Tacking our facial expressions will make VR more realistic, but it will also allow Meta to obtain even greater data.
Natural Facial Expressions is one of the most popular features of the Quest Pro, and when activated, it uses the five interior cameras to determine how your face moves. Alternatively, the raw image data and abstract facial expressions data from such person may be processed by Meta unless they disable the feature, according to a separate Natural Facial Expressions Privacy Notice.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed at this week''s event that nonverbal expressions and gestures are often even more important than we say. This will make VR more realistic, but it will also allow Meta to have access to more data. There is always the possibility it could be exposed in a data breach or a data leak.
In its study, Wired argues that all of this intimate personal information might be used to emotionally exploit people in VR. By looking at how users respond to content or experiences, marketing firms might show them ads that are so relevant that they might not realize they were advertisements in the first place.
How to Protect Your Privacy in virtual reality
For years, researchers have seen the potential privacy and security limitations of VR and AR. In a blog post (opens in a new tab), cybersecurity firm Kaspersky highlights several things you should be aware of if you want to dive first into the realm of VR.
First off, you should always avoid divulging any information that is too personal. While you may set up an account using your email address, you shouldnt include a credit card to your VR accounts unless you absolutely want to purchase something. You may also use gift cards purchased at a physical store to avoid having to enter your credit card or banking details.
When it comes to choosing a VR headset or platform, it is important to carefully consider data privacy guidelines and procedures. It''s important to ensure that the firmware of your VR headset is up to date as well as security updates as well. Likewise, you might consider installing and using one of the best VPNs while in VR to help protect your identity and keep your data safe.
While the Metaverse may well be the future of writing and socializing on the internet, it is up to you to decide whether or not you like it. Instead of the Quest 2 or the Quest Pro, you can always choose from another one of the best VR headsets if you have any doubts about Meta''s collectability and storage.