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CACM Reports: Security and Privacy in Augmented Reality

April 2014 Issue Reports on MOOC Student Behaviors; the Power of Small Data; Personalized Cancer Treatments

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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In this month’s cover story, the commercial innovations enabled by augmented reality (AR) technologies are shadowed by unforeseen computer security and privacy risks, report researchers from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research.  They distinguish between virtual reality systems involving simulation, and AR systems, which power devices beyond the mobile phone that enhance sensing, display, and data sharing.  Citing both unique obstacles and promising opportunities raised by AR applications, they argue that now is the time to consider security and privacy issues, while the technologies are still young and malleable.

  • Data collected in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) showed that students spent the most time per week interacting with lecture videos and homework, according to researchers who studied participants in the first course in MITx (now edX) Spring 2012 term. The study provides insight into student behavior, from weekly e-textbook reading habits to context-dependent use of learning resources when problem-solving.
  • Deborah Estrin and her colleagues at Open mHealth  and Cornell Tech are building prototypes that demonstrate the power of small n=me data.  They are working on a new kind of cloud-based app that would create a picture of one’s health over time by continuously, securely, and privately analyzing the digital traces we generate as we work, shop, sleep, eat, exercise, and communicate.
  • Using population-scale databases to collate and process patient information, health organizations in Europe and the U.S. are pushing ahead with plans that they anticipate will not just improve treatments and survival chances for cancer suffers.  They also expect this approach will drive the development of new therapies, reports U.K.-based writer Chris Edwards.
  • Following a European Union ban on using animals to test the safety of cosmetic ingredients, new models are being developed to replace animal testing.  Instead of relying on structural similarities, an industry trade group initiative will base toxicity predictions on actual biological mechanisms of action using laboratory and computer modeling.

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ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.