The Looming AR/MR Boom Opens the Door to Security Exploitation, Stimulating a US$40 Billion Spend in Security-Related Protections by 2024

21 Jul 2020

The anticipated growth and the establishment of Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) devices and applications in enterprise and consumer markets raise numerous questions about the potential threats associated with the user and business privacy and security. With over 52 million smart glasses active in 2024, and hundreds of millions more mobile devices used for AR content consumption, the exploitable market is sizeable. The significance of this exploitable market and related operating environments is more notable given the rich use cases leveraging AR/MR in industrial and manufacturing, logistics, utilities, and healthcare. The high value and quantity of data flowing through these markets make a new AR/MR implementation a target. According to global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research, revenue in security-related areas, such as platforms and licensing systems integration, IT spend, and connectivity will exceed US$40 billion in 2024, with notable efforts in privacy and security across these segments.

“Ensuring trustworthiness and reliability of AR/MR applications and devices are essential to drive adoption and encourage scale deployment of AR/MR solutions in enterprise verticals. Network, application, or device weaknesses are not only risky due to the data leak or unauthorized access potential, but also due to the interruption that can happen in workflow and business efficiency. At the same time, attacks that target overlay content can mislead users, risk user safety, and data security through phishing and misdirection attempts,” says Eleftheria Kouri, Research Analyst at ABI Research.

The AR/MR market can leverage security techniques and data protection policies which are applied in other connected devices, such as encryption and data anonymization techniques to address some existing and well-understood privacy and security scenarios. “However, existing regulations and security standards need to be adjusted to meet the unique needs of virtual environments and address risks associated with aspects like continuous space mapping, uncertain content ownership, confusing UI and UX and define under which circumstances and which users can access virtual content in public and private locations,” Kouri explains.

Both AR/MR headsets and mobile devices will see rapid growth in usage over the next 5 years. “Upcoming AR/MR headsets will be richer in terms of sensors and data capture capabilities, while smartphones and tablets will be equipped with dedicated sensors for more precise tracking. Greater adoption means more active and potentially vulnerable devices, which do not necessarily slot neatly into existing security infrastructure and implementations. Consequently, the need for dedicated AR/MR security standards, practices, and regulation will become more than essential in the coming years,” concludes Kouri.  

These findings are from ABI Research's Privacy and Security in AR/MR Ecosystems application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Augmented and Virtual Reality research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.

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