Privacy in the Metaverse: An Oxymoron?
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It is obvious that there are privacy challenges with VR goggles like the Meta Quest 2, and with the technological development, these will become even more critical. For example, the new Meta Quest Pro also tracks eye movements and could therefore provide even more detailed user data, such as what content people look at. But we don't even have to go that far, as an interesting study by researchers from the University of Berkeley shows, because users can already be identified solely on the basis of movement data.
The research team analyzed a large set of real-world VR usage data from users (N=55,541) and came up with some interesting findings. Their dataset of 713,013 gaming sessions was provided by BeatLeader, an open-source extension for the most popular VR game, Beat Saber. If you don't know Beat Saber, it's a really fun VR game where players have to smash virtual blocks with lightsabers to the beat of the music (see screenshot).
The research team then took a closer look at the Beat Saber sessions and defined 22 context and 105 movement characteristics. It's really interesting to see how, for example, smashing a simple box in Beat Saber can be characterized with data, as seen in the following screenshot from the paper.
Using the contextual characteristics and machine learning, the research team was subsequently able to identify players purely on the basis of head and hand movement data with an accuracy of 94.33% 🤯🤯🤯 (once a 100-second game session was available; 73.20% for a 10-second game session).
Therefore, we can assume that recurring users can be identified very accurately in the metaverse, even by applications like the game Beat Saber, and only with a minimal set of data. It will probably only be a matter of time before this motion data (later also eye-tracking data) is used for advertising purposes or similar. Privacy in the metaverse will consequently become a huge issue.
Disclaimer: The thoughts published in this publication are my personal opinions and should not be viewed as investment advice. I am not a financial expert. My specialty is entrepreneurship, innovation & marketing. Readers should always do their own research. I own various cryptocurrencies and NFTs, however in many cases it is for the sake of researching the field and gaining a deeper understanding of Web3, NFTs and the Metaverse and not for investment purposes.