Cyborgs Not Welcome At Paris MacDonald's? Data Asks, "How About Androids?"
We've been following Dr. Steve Mann's wearable computing and augmediated reality work since the mid 90's. In fact, some say he's the father of the wearable computer. We'll all that street cred does little on the mean rues of Paris, France. Steve and his family recently went into a local Parisian MacDonald's for a royale with cheese (actually a ranch wrap) and allegedly got roughed up by Ronald and his staff. Is he still named Ronald in France? Anyway, if you're not familiar with Steve Mann's work, he's been wearing a computer vision system of some kind for past 34 years and originally created this technology, and the computer vision algorithms (e.g. HDR = High Dynamic Range), to help people see better.
While enjoying his meal, Steve was allegedly harassed by three MacDonald's employees that apparently ripped up his physician's note and tried to forcibly remove his computer head gear. Steve had this gear permanently attached to his skull and can only remove it with specialized tools. What the Le Mickey D's staff didn't realize is that the eyetap gear stores images in a buffer in cases of falling and attempted theft.
Steve writes: "The computerized eyeglass processes imagery using Augmediated Reality, in order to help the wearer see better, and when the computer is damaged, e.g. by falling and hitting the ground (or by a physical assault), buffered pictures for processing remain in its memory, and are not overwritten with new ones by the then non-functioning computer vision system."
Score one for the cyborg.
In the grand wisdom of giant corporations, it seems that MacDonald's is denying the entire altercation.
Steve continues: " 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."
As wearable computers and computerized vision enhancement become more common, I'm sure this one won't be the last time someone experiences a situation like this. Think about it, blind engineers and positronic androids still take a lot of heat in the 24th century.
You can read the full detailed story of the altercation on Steve's blog. It includes a bit of history behind is groundbreaking work as well as detailed images of the perpetrators.
On another note, If you'd like to know more about Steve and his contemporary's work in the field of wearable computers and augmediated reality, check out this excellent article on The Verge.