Human Cyborg Assaulted In Paris McDonald’s

    July 18, 2012
    Amanda Crum
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“Human Cyborg Assaulted In Paris McDonald’s” is not a headline one expects to read, yet here it is, bold as brass and possibly as strange as anything I’ve ever covered, and I’ve been reporting on “bath salt zombies” for weeks now.

Apparently, there is a professor at the University of Toronto named Steve Mann who is a self-proclaimed “human cyborg”; he wears eyeglasses of his own invention that are similar to the Google Glass project, but Mann has been sporting his since the 80’s. He calls them “Eyetap Digital Glass” computers, and the overall effect is a bit scary if you don’t know what you’re looking at; they’re connected to a headset which wraps around Mann’s face and makes him look a bit like an evil scientist. Which is awesome, if that’s what you’re going for. The glasses’ camera captures images at 120 frames per second in 1080 x 1920-pixel resolution, and while the images aren’t stored in the glasses permanently, it’s still a hell of a feat when you consider how long Google has been working on their project. Mann talks about it in a blog post he wrote about the incident.

Although it has varied over the last 34 years, I have worn the present embodiment of this system (pictured below) for 13 years. This simple design which I did in collaboration with designer Chris Aimone, consists of a sleek strip of aluminum that runs across the forehead, with two silicone nose pads. It holds an EyeTap device (computer-controlled laser light source that causes the eye itself to function as if it were both a camera and display, in effect) in front of my right eye. It also gives the wearer the appearance of having a “glass eye”, this phenomenon being known as the “glass eye” effect (Presence Connect, 2002). Over the years the EyeTap has also therefore been known as the “Glass Eye” or “Eye Glass”, or “Digital Eye Glass”, using the word “Glass” in its singular form, rather than its plural form “Glasses” (See figure caption, “EyeTap digital eye glass”, Aaron Harris/Canadian Press, Monday Dec. 22, 2003).

But it seems that McDonald’s isn’t too keen on people having cameras in their restaurants, at least in France, because when they spotted Mann’s headgear they promptly asked him to remove it. However, the headset is attached to Mann permanently and can’t be removed without tools, so Mann showed the employee a doctor’s note he carries around for just such a purpose and went back to enjoying his food with his family. But soon, another employee came over and angrily tried to rip the camera off his head, ignoring the doctor’s note, which another employee allegedly ripped up.

“My Glass started acting a little erratic but I could still see to some degree, but with crosshatches and kind of a freeze-frame like motion as the Eye Glass stopped and started intermittently,” Mann said.

The employees then shoved him outside. In the altercation, a piece of the headset was jarred loose and Mann’s eyes were hit with laser light, which is extremely dangerous. He also had an embarrassing accident during the scuffle.

“The actual cause of the final stoppage (which happened shortly after he pushed me out the door) is a bit embarrassing as what happened also is that I had had to really use the toilet, at the time, and it was that I’d been going toward using the toilet but got attacked, so as a result, later, it turned out that my pants became the toilet,” he said.

Mann says he’s back online now, but some of the parts of his computer still aren’t working.

“The cargo pants I wear have large number of pockets most of the way down both legs, so my iPhone and the processing boards, motherboard of miniature PC, control board of Glass, etc., went dead shortly afterwards, and that’s when the Glass went totally dark. My iPhone and some of the other pieces still don’t work.”

Unfortunately for the alleged attackers, Mann was able to capture images of every single thing that went down inside that McDonald’s, including the employee ripping up his doctor’s note and another covering up his nametag.



Mann is reaching out to people on his blog to try and find a way to get McDonald’s to take responsibility for the actions of their employees, as he says he’s had no luck finding an explanation for their behavior. He’s also having a hard time finding the legal reaction he wants, as police didn’t seem too keen on filing a report after the incident. He says his demands are simple: he just wants his glasses to be fixed.

Penny Sheldon contacted the Police in Paris, but did not receive much help from them.
I’m not seeking to be awarded money. I just want my Glass fixed, and it would also be nice if McDonald’s would see fit to support vision research.

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.

  • http://webpronews.com tara

    They (McDonald’s) should most definitely hold their employees accountable for their actions! He was minding his own business, which was eating at that restaurant, which pays their checks, and was attacked! There would be a massive storm about this if this person was handicapped and was using some type of appliance to function. They did this to him because he was different. Not to be personally biased, but if these people that attacked him were intelligent enough to not work at McDonald’s, then we might not be having this conversation in the first place! Ignorance and the inability to accept difference and change is going to be the downfall of our society. People fear what they don’t understand, and stupidity is not an excuse. He should be compensated for personal, equipment, and emotional damages, as well as a very public apology and actions taken against the offenders.

  • Jon

    One more reason not to eat at McDonalds.

  • Mark

    McDonald’s is not responsible for the employee’s actions, obviously, but McDonald’s is responsible for how and if the involved employees are held accountable, are the Paris police. There were eyewitnesses to the altercation, as well as video (store footage) and possible photographic evidence (Eye Glass.) Were this to happen in the United States, these employees would be jailed and (McDonald’s) would terminate their employment, indefinitely.

    • Jason

      Mcdonalds and in fact all buisness’s are responsible for their employee’s actions. If an airline pilot crashes a plane because he is drunk then the air line is reponsible for not propery screening their employee. The same applies here, if Mcdonalds allows this type of behavior, they are on “the hook” so to speak

      • Grey

        Jason is correct. A company is legally responsible for any actions taken by those in their employ while they are working.

        They do have the right to seek legal action against said employees in an attempt to be reimbursed for any expenses the company accrued due to their inappropriate actions, if those actions are a blatant breach of company policy.

  • Zaidi Ademeit

    Hi-tek eyewear. Lo-tek food. This should teach him to be consistent in your choices.

    • Demon X

      So Zaidi you think everybody who has high tech stuff should eat at high price reataurants your a moron.

      • NavyPunk

        No, “Demon X” you’re (you are) a moron. “Your” is possessive.
        He’s not saying they need to eat at expensive restaurants, he’s saying McDonalds food is trash. It’s the worst of all fast food chains, well, except Taco Bell.

  • Du De

    McDonalds employees physically assaulted the customer, and for that McDonalds could be sued. Why would a smart guy like you eat at McDonalds anyway. McDonalds food is very unhealthy.

  • http://www.mariomora.net Mario Mora

    Well, there is your first documented case of bullying/racism against a cyborg. Weird weird times we are living in…

    My guess is the idiots working there at good old McD’s were so freaked out about it that like most brain matter deprived examples of society would do, they opted to smash him into conforming or making an example out of him.

  • http://google emmett

    OK. Iknow I’m out of the loop. right? What the hell does this guy wear THE GEAR as he calls it for. Is he blind in one eye or what. What is the purpose of having a glass eye work like a camera if the pictures are not stored. And calling himself a cyborg, is it to get attention for himself. I’m no authority on what a cyborg is but I don’t think having as he calls it Gear attached to his head qualifies him to be a cyborg. There are people who wear prosthetics to function as before and they aren’t calling themselves cyborgs. Would someone explain this to me please.

    • Grey

      The device does store images, they are just not permanently stored. This is why he has photographic evidence of the event.

      As to why he is wearing them, it is somewhat of a prolonged experiment. It is a research project he has taken to the extreme.

      As for calling himself, or people with prosthetic devices ‘cyborg’, at the most basic meaning of the word, it is accurate, if a bit confusing with our pop-culture view of what a cyborg is. A cyborg is not a robot with living components, it is a living organism with mechanical support systems.

      cy·borg (s bôrg ). n. A human who has certain physiological processes aided or controlled by mechanical or electronic devices.

      I am currently studying to be an engineering of assistive technologies, and cybernetics is a large focus in the field.

  • d connell

    McD’s should be responsible for the incident. To attack a guy for having something that is unuasual but not deemed a threat to anyone is garbage. That would be like saying to a person in an electric wheelchair ” sorry but you can’t bring a vehicle into the premiss”

    Tourists I’m sure have gone into tons of places with cameras and have they been attacked?

    France is sure getting a black eye for their treatment of people.

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity…I think not vive la France…I think Napolean would have some heads roll for an incident like that