I have not reported on Google’s Project Glass in this forum, as there is precious little information on the specifics of the project, and most other sites seem content in heralding that “a new video has been taken with Google Glass” or “Sergey Brin wore Google Glass in an interview… again!” In the interest of keeping my few posts as relevant as possible, and considering those stories pertaining to Google’s wearable computer didn’t seem to contain much interesting information, they were not mentioned here. This wearable computer story, however, has fighting, fast-food, international intrigue, and even a cyborg, so it makes the cut.
SlashGear is reporting that Steve Mann, who was the head of the Wearable Computer group at MIT and is currently working on mediated reality tech, was allegedly assaulted in a McDonald’s while vacationing with his family in France. Mann was sporting his wearable computer, the “EyeTap”, which is pictured above to the left of Google’s subsequent wearable computer effort. After entering the fast-food joint, the employees apparently took issue with Mann’s device, presumably its prominent camera portion, and attempted to pull it off his head. Only, the device is firmly implanted into Mann’s skull:
“[The EyeTap is] permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.”
Mann explained that he brought documentation, and even a doctor’s note, attesting to this fact with him on his trip in the event that security personnel at museums and historical landmarks were to take issue with the device. Apparently, Mann never need to whip out these documents until he arrived at the Golden Arches where, after ordering food from an employee who read through the documentation and accepted its contents, he was approached by three other employees. After trying to rip the headset off of his face, Mann attempted to ease the situation by presenting the documentation, which the employees promptly ripped up. This act was captured by the EyeTap’s camera, as the device automatically records and stores images in the event of an impact or jostling. The employees’ attempt to pull of the headset triggered the capture of the below image, showing one of the McDonald’s employees ripping up the researcher’s documentation:
Mann has tried to reach out to McDonald’s, but has been unsuccessful in discussing the incident with a representative. “I’m not seeking to be awarded money” he asserts, “I just want my Glass fixed, and it would also be nice if McDonald’s would see fit to support vision research.”
As SlashGear points out, once Google’s Glass hits the market, cameras will potentially be even more ubiquitous than they are with everyone carrying smartphones, always ready to shoot without the subject knowing. This will definitely cause friction in terms of privacy issues, and this incident could foreshadow some broader concerns relating to wearable computers.