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Is the World Ready for Wearable Cameras (Or Cyborgs)?


Professor and self-proclaimed cyborg Steve Mann created an eye and memory-aid device he calls the EyeTap Digital Glass. The EyeTap, worn by Mann above on the left, is a wearable device that is similar to Google Eye, pictured right, but he’s been making them at home since the 1980s. The goal of his project is to use images to aid memory, or even to augment the memories of people with Alzheimer’s Disease or who simply want to preserve their memories more permanently. However, a recent misunderstanding over Mann’s technology allegedly caused a confrontation between Mann and several employees at a Paris McDonald’s restaurant.

When Mann and his family entered the restaurant, an employee told Mann that photography was not allowed inside, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Mann presented a doctor’s note explaining the need for his headgear, but later, another employee allegedly attempted to forcibly remove Mann’s EyeTap — which is mounted to Mann’s head — and in the process of doing so, damaged the components, according to Mann.

While the account of the alleged attack is a dramatic one, the story is familiar: photographers harassed by authorities and paparazzi attacked by celebrities, often in the name of privacy.

But wearable cameras raise a new question: is the world ready for cameras that go everywhere and see all? Could this be perceived as an invasion of privacy when worn inside private areas — households or businesses that prohibit photography?

There’s more debate and discussion about the incident and its implications here on Engadget. Staffer Tim Stevens has an interesting point:

Until the world has developed some sort of Laughing Man-like technology for dynamically obscuring faces and blocking conversation recording, it’s clear that the world is not quite ready to release projects such as Google Glass upon the streets. But, the world very definitely needs to start having conversations about how it’s going to handle technology like this because it’s coming — and soon. For once, it’d be nice if society were actually ready for it.

What do you think?