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XR Association leans into policy world

Feb 15, 2024
Apple Vision Pro glasses

Apple's new Vision Pro virtual reality headset. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The XR Association — a D.C. trade group that promotes "responsible development and thoughtful advancement" of virtual, augmented and mixed reality — announced new policy initiatives on Thursday, per an announcement shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: As excitement over virtual worlds grows thanks to recent product rollouts from Big Tech, such as Apple's Vision Pro, the policy group in Washington representing those technologies wants to work with lawmakers well before any new laws are considered.

What they're saying: "Oftentimes with any type of new and emerging technology, we all get wrapped up in the optimism of it," Elizabeth Hyman, CEO of the XR Association, tells Axios.

  • "But sometimes, [that means] you don't necessarily face up to some of the challenges and the ways in which we want to educate policymakers and others for when this is a front and center discussion in the policy world."
  • "We want them to know now what some of those issues are ... and have this full, robust conversation about the technology. It's the sign of a mature industry, even though the technology has not matured in the public uptake," she says.

Details: XR Association's board includes members Accenture, Google, HTC, Meta, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sony and Unity. The policy paper lays out nine initiatives across five core issue areas:

  • Norms and behavior in immersive spaces.
  • Safety and well-being for youth.
  • Privacy as an element of trust.
  • Respect and diversity in the workplace.
  • Interoperability.

The nine initiatives include:

  • Convening parents and youth to discuss safety in XR.
  • A literature review about the impacts of XR on young people.
  • Publishing a developers' guide
  • Focusing on privacy and tools to combat harassment in XR spaces.
  • Pushing companies to focus on safe and inclusive XR.

XR technology may be nascent, but stories have already emerged about bullying and harassment.

Between the lines: Often, conversations in Washington about emerging technologies happen after the technologies have already been heavily used (and abused) by the public, spurring a cycle of outrage being followed by lawmakers spinning their wheels on bills that often don't pass.

  • In the AI and XR worlds, there's a recognition of what social media platforms already went through and a sense that it can be prevented by working with lawmakers earlier.
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