Wearable Tech Pioneer Assaulted at Paris McDonald’s

Google Glass could revolutionize daily life, but wearing what looks like Star Trek props could reduce humanity to playground bullies.

Dr. Steve Mann, the original inventor of digital eyeglasses, blogged extensively Monday about an altercation earlier this month in a Parisian McDonald’s. A customer attempted to rip the device off Mann’s head, to which it is permanently fixed.

The inventor built the EyeTap Digital Eye Glass in 1999, long before Google announced its newfangled spectacles, and has been wearing a computer vision system of some sort for 34 years. But during a recent visit to the golden arches in France, he and his family were assaulted, physically and emotionally, by employees and customers.

While in line at the restaurant, a McDonald’s employee asked Mann about the glasses. Given that Mann and his family had “spent the day going to various museums and historical landmark sites guarded by military and police,” he had a doctor’s note regarding his computer vision glasses, which he showed to the employee.

“After reviewing the documentation, the purported McDonalds employee accepted me (and my family) as a customer, and left us to place our order,” Mann wrote. Through the remainder of his story, Mann referred to that employee as “Possible Witness 1.”

After placing his family’s fast-food order with the cashier, or “Possible Witness 2,” Mann sat near the restaurant entrance to people watch.

It was at that point that a man, who Mann dubbed Perpetrator 1, tried to take his glasses. “The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools,” he wrote.

Mann attempted to calm him down by showing him the letter from his doctor. Perpetrator 1 brought Mann with him to meet two other men (Perpetrators 2 and 3), one of whom was wearing a McDonald’s employee shirt and carrying a broom and dustpan. All three men reviewed the doctor’s note, then crumpled the paper and ripped it up.

“Perpetrator 1 pushed me out the door, onto the street,” Mann wrote.

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in a statement to SlashGear, the restaurant chain said it is “in the process of gathering information about this situation and we ask for patience until all of the facts are known.”

The irony of the situation came directly from Mann’s glasses, which processes imagery using Augmediated Reality, Mann said, in order to help him see better. But when the internal computer is damaged, by, say, physical assault, it retains photos that it would otherwise erase, therefore capturing images of the situation.

Mann posted said photos on his blog, covering people’s faces and naming them only by “Possible Witness” or “Perpetrator” numbers.

Despite attempts to contact McDonald’s, Parisian police, the Embassy, and the Consulate, Mann has received no response. He is not seeking money or legal charges.

“I just want my Glass fixed,” he said, adding that “it would also be nice if McDonald’s would see fit to support vision research.”

For more, see PCMag’s Tech You Can Wear slideshow below.

For more from Stephanie, follow her on Twitter @smlotPCMag.

View Slideshow See all (7) slides

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