Wearable tech pioneer assaulted in McDonald’s for wearing Digital Eye Glass

17 Jul 2012

Steve Mann, who invented and wears a computer vision system, has written a blog describing how he was assaulted in a McDonald’s restaurant in Paris while holidaying with his family.

Considered by many to be the father of wearable computing, Mann has worn some kind of computer vision technology for 34 years now and he has been wearing his latest model – which isn’t a far cry from Google Glass – for the past 13 years.

The system consists of a strip of aluminium running across the forehead, two silicone nose pads and, over Mann’s right eye, an EyeTap device. This computer-controlled laser light source causes the eye to function like a camera and display and, basically, looks like a digital glass eye.

Mann believes this technology will eventually replace traditional spectacles and better aid the visually impaired in future. However, some people at McDonald’s on Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris don’t seem to share Mann’s … ahem … vision.

Device and documents destroyed

Stopping at the fast-food restaurant with his family while on holiday, Mann says he was accosted by a man who tried to tear the EyeTap device from his head. However, the device is actually attached to Mann’s skull and can only be removed with special tools.

Mann says he tried to calm the man down and presented them with a letter from his doctor and documentation on the system that he carries with him when he travels. These documents were then passed on to another man, who was wearing a name-tag on his belt, and the two men then proceeded to destroy Mann’s documents.

The man wearing the name-tag then pushed Mann out onto the street.

Caught on camera

Mann’s EyeTap device was damaged in the process, but this caused the computer to store buffered pictures for processing in its memory instead of overwriting them – which means, the digital eye glass captured the sequence of events on camera.

Mann retrieved these images and has posted them, along with a detailed account, on his blog. The story, posted earlier today, has been shared by many across social media, as Mann is now seeking to get in touch with McDonald’s to ask them to repair his damaged device, and perhaps make a donation to vision research for his troubles.

Thanks to Twitter user Simeon O’Neill for bringing this story to our attention.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.