Pokemon Go exec to testify at Senate hearing on augmented reality

Pokemon Go exec to testify at Senate hearing on augmented reality
© Getty Images

The chief executive of the company behind smartphone game Pokemon Go will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee next week as part of a hearing on augmented reality (AR) technologies.

Niantic, Inc.'s chief executive, John Hanke, will be joined at the Wednesday hearing by other industry representatives and University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo.


“Stretching far beyond entertainment, augmented reality is starting to be used today for transportation safety, scientific research, communication, and other real-world tasks,” said Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTelehealth is calling — will Congress pick up? GOP grows tired of being blindsided by Trump Hillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks 'not my thing' | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet MORE (R-S.D) in a statement.

“Expert witnesses testifying at the first congressional hearing on augmented reality will introduce to the committee the potential applications and policy considerations of this rapidly-developing technology.”

Unlike virtual reality, which uses technology to create a totally immersive experience for viewers, augmented reality adds a digital layer to images taken from the real world. Virtual- and augmented-reality technology has become a fixation of many major firms, including Facebook and Google.

The hearing will “examine the emergence, benefits, and implications” of the AR technology, according to the committee.

Augmented reality remains a nascent technology. But some policymakers have already raised concerns about Pokemon Go, which allows its users to hunt for virtual Pokemon in the real world.

In July, Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenWinners and losers from first fundraising quarter Election analyst says Gillibrand doesn't have 'horsepower to go the full distance' Gillibrand campaign links low fundraising to Al Franken backlash: memo MORE (D-Minn.) asked Niantic to provide him with information about the privacy features of the game.

“As the augmented reality market evolves, I ask that you provide greater clarity on how Niantic is addressing issues of user privacy and security, particularly that of its younger players,” he said in a letter to Hanke.
Lawmakers in New York also raised concerns about the fact that key features in the game were placed too close to the homes of registered sex offenders.