Earlier this week, a detachment of expert panelists were summoned to appear before a group of senators led by U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The AR squadron contained John Hanke (Niantic chief executive — Developer of Pokemon Go), Stanley Pierre-Louis, (General Counsel for the Entertainment Software Association), Brian Blau (Gartner Research Vice President), and Ryan Calo (Assistant Professor of Law, University of Washington).
Full statements and an archived video of the hearing are available on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation website. In addition, UploadVR had the chance to speak with panelist Brian Blau for more details.
According to Blau, the session included demos and questions from the senators. The lawmakers were reportedly primarily concerned with safety issues surrounding, “distracted driving and other, similar issues.”
Sen. Thune opened the session by stating that he had convened this session in order to avoid jumping into AR with a strong regulatory hand before the young industry had the chance to grow. Thune stated in his opening remarks that, “It is so early in the development of immersive technology that it needs time to develop and flourish.”
Blau also felt that there may be another reason why this particular hearing was happening now. In Blau’s opinion, the hearing, “had to do with the Pokemon Go data leak to start – they realized this was something they needed to address.”
The data leak in question happened early on in the release of the wildly popular Niantic mobile game when it became apparent that the service was mining more data than it should from users profiles, specifically their Google accounts. Blau explained that the John Hanke, Niantic’s CEO, “got the hardest questions” and that there were at least “15-17 senators” present at the hearing.
Blau also said that the senators, “Wanted the panel to be primarily about AR, but VR was discussed as well.” They asked questions relating to the types of content available for AR, what sort of jobs it may create, and how this technology could benefit non-educated Americans.
For his part, Blau set out to impress upon the gathered legislators just how early in its lifespan AR is. He wanted them to understand that there will need to be many more conversations like this one as the industry continues to grow and that he doesn’t, “think it will be a fast conversation.”