Dr. Steve Mann, inventor of a wearable computing system called the EyeTap Digital Eye Glass, claims he was assaulted this month at a Paris McDonald's because he was wearing one of his augmented reality eyeglasses. In a blog post published Monday, Mann alleges that an assailant tried to rip off his eyewear while he was eating in the restaurant, before pushing him out the door and onto the street.
Mann, who was on vacation with his family at the time, says he's been wearing some form of his computerized vision system for 34 years. As a precautionary measure, he travels with documentation on the device, as well as a letter from his physician. The University of Toronto professor says he showed this documentation to a McDonald's employee upon entering the restaurant on July 1st, and was permitted entry. When Mann gave these documents to the assailant, however, he and two other alleged perpetrators proceeded to rip them up.
The EyeTap, pictured above, is a head-mounted display similar in function to Google's Project Glass. The system consists of an aluminum strip that fits across a user's forehead and holds an EyeTap device in front of the right eye. Mann describes this device as a "computer-controlled laser light source that causes the eye itself to function as if it were both a camera and display," effectively creating an augmented reality field.
"I could use some help and advice"
Mann doesn't offer an explanation for his assault, nor does he mention any injuries sustained from the attack. He does, however, claim that his primary assailant damaged his EyeTap while trying to remove it from his head. (The device is permanently attached and can only be removed with special tools.) Ironically enough, this damage may prove critical to Mann's allegations, since it forced the EyeTap to automatically store every image it captured during the attack. As a result, the professor now has detailed photos of all three perpetrators, as well as two potential witnesses. (The images have been published on his blog, with all faces blocked out.)
Thus far, though, Mann has been unsuccessful in his attempts to identify his assailants, or even contact the McDonald's where the alleged attack took place. He notes that one of the assailants was wearing a shirt with a McDonald's logo on it, and that another was holding a broom and dustpan, though the professor refrains from making explicit accusations against any restaurant staff. In fact, Mann seems to have no interest in any legal recourse whatsoever, as he explains at the conclusion of his post.
"I'm not seeking to be awarded money. I just want my Glass fixed, and it would also be nice if McDonald's would see fit to support vision research," Mann writes. "I don't have the resources to take on a branch of a large multi-national corporation operating in a distant country, but I could use some help and advice as to how to resolve this matter, how to ensure it doesn't happen again to me or anyone else wearing Eye Glass, and what can be done to advance Digital Eye Glass research in not just the technological realm, but also the realm of social responsibility and culture and technology."