Stanford University

Protecting Nonverbal Data Tracked in Virtual Reality

Bailenson, J.N. (2018) Protecting Nonverbal Data Tracked in Virtual Reality. JAMA Pediatr. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.1909

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Abstract

In 2018, commercial systems typically track body movements 90 times per second to display the scene appropriately, and high-end systems record 18 types of movements across the head and hands. Consequently, spending 20 minutes in a VR simulation leaves just under 2 million unique recordings of body language. Psychologists have never, in the decades of studying nonverbal behavior, had data sets of this magnitude, given the labor involved in hand-coding movements from recorded video. Virtual reality provides incredible experiences, and I remain bullish on its successful integration into the media landscape given its role in communication, education, and training. But unless we solve the privacy issue early on, violations of our nonverbal privacy might trump these benefits.

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