Man assaulted for wearing cyborg-like computer vision on his face

In the future, wearable computers, especially ones that sit above your eyes, will be ubiquitous. Advancements in miniaturization and flexible displays are already paving the road for them. Sadly, even in today's open cornucopia culture, not everybody is so welcoming of cyborg tech.

For the last 34 years, Steve Mann, has worn a permanently implanted "computer vision system" called the "Glass Eye" or "Digital Eye Glass" — a "computer-controlled laser sight source that causes the eye itself to function as if it were both a camera and display." Mann carries a doctors note on him at all times in case people get freaked out by his robotic eye. He says he's never had any real issues with people inquiring about his computer vision implant.

Last month, while traveling in Paris with his family, Mann was physically assaulted by a McDonald's employee who "angrily grabbed [his] eyeglass, and tried to pull it off [his] head." As already mentioned, the Glass Eye is permanently affixed to Mann's head, so it couldn't be pried off without special tools.

Even after Mann showed McDonald's staff his doctor documentation indicating his right to wear his Glass Eye and that it was not a harmful weapon of mass destruction or that he was a spy sent from Burger King, the employee continued in a fit of rage to rip the letter up and push him out of the restaurant.

Mann's Glass Eye is an interesting piece of gadgetry not only because it essentially enhances vision for the blind, but also because when it's damaged, it saves images of everything that was "buffering in the memory" and prevents new ones from overwriting the saved images. As a result, Mann was able to recover images of his assaulter and witnesses at the scene of the crime, which he has published on his website (with faces censored).

While Mann says he's not seeking any monetary compensation, he does want to use the ordeal to raise awareness for wearable eye technology and hopefully get an apology from McDonald's.

Steve Mann's story is a sad reminder that there are people who are still frightened by the idea of a computer that can be worn or implanted in the body. Mann's unfortunate encounter also reveals that the social fear of being photographed or video recorded in public still exists, which is shame considering the fact that practically everybody has a camera-equipped cellphone that can perform the same functions.

Via Eyetap

(Thanks, James!)

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