McDonalds staff accused of assaulting 'human cyborg'

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Steve Mann - the 'human cyborg' with a permanent wearable computer similar to Google Glasses - claims he was assaulted by McDonalds staff in one of its Paris 'restaurants'.

The University of Toronto professor was, as always, wearing his Eye Tap Digital Eye Glass when he entered the Champs-Elysees outletwith his family and ordered a meal.

He says that when he sat down, he was assaulted by a man who attempted to rip the glasses from his head - dangerous, as they're permanently attached to his skull.

Mann showed this man a document from his doctor explaining the device - he'd expected to need this when passing through customs, though not, presumably, when ordering a Ranch Wrap (the 'intersection of crispy chicken and creamy, tangy ranch sauce', apparently)

But the man crumpled up the document while another McDonalds employee tore up the rest of his documentation. He was then pushed out onto the street.

But Mann has evidence of the assault, thanks to a quirk of the glasses' design.

"The computerized eyeglass processes imagery using Augmediated Reality, in order to help the wearer see better, and when the computer is damaged, e.g. by falling and hitting the ground (or by a physical assault), buffered pictures for processing remain in its memory, and are not overwritten with new ones by the then non-functioning computer vision system," he writes on his blog.

"As a result of Perpetrator 1's actions, therefore, images that would not have otherwise been captured were captured. Therefore by damaging the Eye Glass, Perpetrator 1 photographed himself and others within McDonalds."

Perhaps most shockingly, though, Mann's attempts to complain to McDonalds - and get his vision system repaired at the company's expense - proved totally futile. Emails disappeared into the void, and phone calls elicited only a distorted voice recording.

It was only when Mann resorted to an online plea for help that the company responded, with a terse Twitter message, reading: "Hi @STEVEPMP We take the claims very seriously, are in process of gathering info & ask for patience until all facts are known. Thank you."

Mann says he's not the only person to have been assaulted by McDonalds staff in Paris, citing a woman who was kicked out for photographing the menu.

Now, it's hardly surprising that anybody working in a McDonalds would be chary of having their photograph taken, and in the home of some of the world's finest food, the embarrassment must be all the greater.

But that's no excuse for assaulting a man in front of his children, or for issuing such a lame non-apology - on Twitter, of all places - and many of Mann's supporters are calling for a boycott.