Perception attack

I wrote yesterday’s post about cyber-cloaking while thinking about the recent article in the New York Times claiming that Google will soon be coming out with augmented reality glasses.

A.R. glasses are essentially a form of client/server technology. As you walk around in the world, you are the client, and a remote server that knows your location is downloading content into the wearable computer that drives your display glasses. In that sense wearable A.R. is not all that different from the client/server architecture we use every day when we browse the web.

Except that A.R. cloaking attacks could be a lot more interesting and scary. Imagine somebody being able to hack into your very perception of the world around you. For example, you and your friends are walking down the street together, all wearing the latest and greatest designer A.R. shades, checking out cool virtual sculptures, store displays, interactive movie ads. What you don’t know is that a clever cloaking attack is targeting just you, so that you only think you are seeing what everyone else is seeing.

I’ll leave it to you to imagine what such a perception attack could be used for. The possibilities, I’m afraid, are endless.

6 thoughts on “Perception attack”

  1. It’s interesting that you think of AR glasses a form of client/server technology. To me, it’s fundamentally about having programmatic read/write access to people’s vision.

    I guess in the short term it will be client/server, because it’s easier to do the computation in some remote server than on a tiny, under powered machine that is perhaps sitting in your pocket, but ideally just part of the glasses themselves.

    In 2030, when you can have something as powerful as a 2010 data center sitting on top of your ears, is it really going to be a client/server technology?

  2. Yes, I think it will be. It’s not the computation that’s being served, it’s the data.

    The only way we can all share a persistent virtual world with each other in the space around us is by having the data which represents that world reside somewhere from which to serve everyone the same consistent state.

  3. You’ll see something like this in the anime/manga series “Ghost in the Shell” wherein people with “cyberized” eyes will occasionally have their eyes hacked and their vision adjusted, usually to delete someone from view thereby rendering that someone invisible.

  4. The other day, the display on my new iPad shorted — it only lit up when it was in landscape. I got upset and showed it to my friend. “I’m not seeing what you mean,” he said. I thought it was because we were in the sun and the glare was hiding it, so I went inside. I kept moving the iPad, and he kept insisting he didn’t see what I was talking about.

    I thought he was insane…until I realized my new sunglasses were polarized. When I rotated the iPad screen into portrait (i.e. 90° from landscape), the sunglasses’ polarization made the screen totally black. There was no short in the display at all…but my friend literally couldn’t see what I was seeing. (I felt like an imbecile, then we laughed for ten minutes.)

    Now: imagine when that sensory disconnect from those around you is intentional. 🙂

  5. Wow, that’s an amazing story! Maybe your iPad was just trying to prepare you for things to come. 😉

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