Steve Mann, a University of Toronto computer science professor, claims that three employees at a McDonald’s in Paris assaulted him after they objected to his use of the “Eyetap” device.
The incident allegedly took place on July 1st, 2012, while Mann was on a family vacation. Mann claims that despite obtaining approval to use the device from other McDonald’s employees — after showing medical prescriptions and a letter from a family physician — three other employees attempted to remove his Eyetap, tore up his documents, attempted to conceal their identities, and pushed him out on the street.
Mann also wrote in a blog post that when the employees tried
to remove the eyewear, the device was damaged, causing the camera to inadvertently photograph several stills of the incident that otherwise would not have been stored. Mann posted some of the images on his blog.
McDonald’s denies the incident took place in the way that Mann described. In a statement, the company said that, “several employees claim that their interaction with Mann was polite and did not involve physical altercation.”
Mann, a pioneer in the field of wearable computing, has been called the first human cyborg in media reports. The Eyetap was invented by Mann himself. It resembles a pair of eye-glasses and is attached to the face by a strip of aluminium; the device displays computer information to the user and allows the computer to process and possibly alters what the user sees. Mann has worn
variations of the device for 34 years, although the concept was recently popuarlized by an upcoming Google product known as Project Glass.
Mann has asked McDonald’s to fix his camera, and called for the company to aid vision research.
This is not the first time that Mann’s wearble computing device has led to a public incident. In 2002, Mann was detained by security in the St. John’s airport, where he claims personnel removed some of the implants and hardware utilized by the device.
The McDonalds location visited by Mann has a history of confrontation with customers who appear to be taking photographs. In 2011, CBS News reported that a woman from Boise, Idaho was allegedly assaulted by an employee when she tried to take a picture of the menu.