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Capitol Health Call
January 10, 2017

Augmented Reality Goes Bedside

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2017 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

JAMA. 2017;317(2):127. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.20270

So why was John Hanke, the man behind the smash hit smartphone game Pokémon GO, testifying on Capitol Hill during the lame-duck session of Congress? The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation was holding hearings on the potential benefits and dangers of augmented reality (AR) technology, and as CEO of Niantic Inc, the company that worked with Nintendo to develop software for the AR-based game, Hanke knows a lot about the subject.

Most people are familiar with virtual reality: donning a headset that goes over the eyes and immerses the wearer sensorially in an artificial world. Augmented reality, on the other hand, takes visual information and superimposes it on the actual environment, for example creating the image of a Pokémon character on someone’s lawn. The technique raises serious privacy and safety issues as the digital world collides with the real one, sometimes in undesirable ways.

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