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Steve Mann

Steve Mann
Steve Mann with Generation-4 EyeTap
Born 1962
Hamilton, Ontario[1]
Known for Wearable computing, High dynamic range imaging, Chirplet transform, Hydraulophone, Natural user interface, Scratch input, Mobile blogging, Sousveillance

Steven Mann (born 1962) is a researcher and inventor best known for his work on computational photography, particularly wearable computing and high dynamic range imaging.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Ideas and inventions 2.1
    • Anonequity project 2.2
  • Media coverage 3
  • Publications 4
  • McVeillance and the Mann-Wassel Law 5
    • Additional news items associated with the 2012 July 1st French "McDoGate" incident 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Mann holds a PhD in Media Arts (1997) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.Sc., B.Eng. and M.Eng. from McMaster University in 1987,1989 and 1992, respectively. He was also inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Hall of Fame, Alumni Gallery 2004, in recognition of his career as an inventor and teacher.[2] While at MIT, in then Director Nicholas Negroponte's words "Steve Mann ... brought the seed" that founded the Wearable Computing group in the Media Lab[3] and "Steve Mann is the perfect example of someone ... who persisted in his vision and ended up founding a new discipline."[4][5] In 2004 he was named the recipient of the 2004 Leonardo Award for Excellence for his article "Existential Technology," published in Leonardo 36:1.[6][7]

He is also General Chair of the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society, Associate Editor of IEEE Technology and Society, is a licensed Professional Engineer, and Senior Member of the IEEE.[8]


Mann is a tenured professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with cross-appointments to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Faculty of Forestry, at the University of Toronto, and is a Professional Engineer licensed through Professional Engineers Ontario. He is also General Chair of the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society and Associate Editor of IEEE Technology and Society.[8]

Ideas and inventions

Many of Mann's inventions pertain to the field of computational photography.

  • Chirplet transform, 1991: Mann was the first to propose and reduce to practice a signal representation based on a family of chirp signals, each associated with a coefficient, in a generalization of the wavelet transform that is now referred to as the chirplet transform.
  • Video Orbits, 1993: Mann was the first to produce an algorithm for automatically combining multiple pictures of the same subject matter, using algebraic projective geometry, to "stitch together" images using automatically estimated perspective correction. This is called the "Video Orbits" algorithm.[9] See also patent US 5828793 , Method and apparatus for producing digital images having extended dynamic ranges.[10]
  • Comparametric Equations, 1993: Mann was the first to propose and implement an algorithm to estimate a camera's response function from a plurality of differently exposed images of the same subject matter. He was also the first to propose and implement an algorithm to automatically extend dynamic range in an image by combining multiple differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.[11] See also patent US 5706416 , Method and apparatus for relating and combining multiple images of the same scene or object(s).[12]
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range): "The first report of digitally combining multiple pictures of the same scene to improve dynamic range appears to be Mann." in "Estimation-theoretic approach to dynamic range enhancement using multiple exposures" by Robertson etal, JEI 12(2), p220, right column, line 26. Mann's work on wearable computing was motivated by his early computer vision systems that helped people see better (e.g. while welding, or in other high-dynamic range situations, with dynamic range management, overlays, and augmentation as well as diminishment in both the additive and subtractive sense).[13]
  • Integral kinematics and integral kinesiology: principles of negative derivatives (integrals) of displacement, such as absement (the area under the displacement-time curve), as embodied by hydraulophones (water-based instruments).[14] This work has been built-upon by others, and also forms the basis for a new way of understanding electrical engineering, based on using the electrical analog of absement as the base unit.[15] See also Integral Kinematics and Integral Kinesiology[16]
  • Hydraulophone: Mann invented an experimental musical instrument that uses pressurized hydraulic fluid, such as water, to make sound. The instrument is played by placing the fingers in direct contact with the sound-producing hydraulic fluid, thus giving the musician a high degree of control over the musical expression in the sound.[17]
  • Natural User Interface: In the 1980s and '90s, Mann developed a number of user-interface strategies using natural interaction with the real world as an alternative to a command-line interface (CLI) or graphical user interface (GUI). Mann referred to this work as "Natural User Interfaces", "Direct User Interfaces", and "Metaphor-Free Computing"[18]
  • Scratch input, an acoustic-based method of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) that takes advantage of the characteristic sound produced when a finger nail, stick, or other object strikes or is dragged over a surface, such as a table or wall.
  • Telepointer, a wearable computer based on a pendant that contains a webcam and laser-based infinite depth-of-focus projector, and related technologies in the SixthSense gesture-based wearable computing system.
  • Sensory Singularity, together with Marvin Minsky and Ray Kurzweil, Mann proposed the theory of the "Sensularity" Sensory Singularity.[19]
  • Sousveillance and cyborg-logging.
Surveilluminescent wand: When moved through space in a long-exposure photograph, it makes the sightfield of a surveillance camera visible.
  • Surveilluminescent wand: a device for visualizing vision and seeing sight, by way of making visible the sightfield (time-reversed lightfield) of a camera or similar computer vision sensor, using time-exposure with array of surveilluminescent lights to make visible to one camera what another camera can see.[20]

Mann also works in the fields of

  • Mann's current web site as of 2009
  • EyeTap Personal Imaging (ePi) Lab
  • Mann's website (
  • Publications

External links

  1. ^ McNeil, Mark (2008-11-24). "Filmmaker has futuristic vision".  
  2. ^ "Mann, Steve".  
  3. ^ "Video Interview". Wearable Computing and Interaction Design. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  4. ^ Bangor Daily News - Sep 26, 1997
  5. ^ Part man, part machine - all nerd `Wearable computer' pioneer Steve Mann keeps one eye locked on the future, Toronto Star, Eric Shinn, Jul. 8, 02:32 EDT
  6. ^ "2004 Leonardo Award for Excellence Given to Steve Mann". 2004-12-07. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  7. ^ Mann, Steve. "Existential Technology: Wearable Computing Is Not the Real Issue!".  
  8. ^ a b [2]
  9. ^ "Video Orbits of the Projective Group".  
  10. ^ Virtual bellows: constructing high-quality images from video.", In Proceedings of the IEEE First International Conference on Image ProcessingAustin, Texas, November 13–16, 1994""". 
  11. ^ "Comparametric Equations". Wearable Computing and Interaction Design. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  12. ^ Compositing Multiple Pictures of the Same Scene", Proceedings of the 46th Annual Imaging Science & Technology Conference, May 9–14, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1993""". 
  13. ^ Davies, Chris (2012-09-12). "Quantigraphic camera promises HDR eyesight from Father of AR".  
  14. ^ Mann, S., Janzen, R., and Post, M. (2006). Hydraulophone design considerations: absement, displacement, and velocity-sensitive music keyboard in which each key is a water jet. In Proc. 14th annual ACM int. conf. on Multimedia, Santa Barbara, 519–528. CiteSeerX: .2778.131.1.110
  15. ^ Memory Elements: A Paradigm Shift in Lagrangian Modeling of Electrical Circuits
  16. ^ "Integral Kinematics (Time‐Integrals of Distance, Energy, etc.) and Integral Kinesiology", by Steve Mann, Ryan Janzen, Mir Adnan Ali, Pete Scourboutakos, and Nitin Guleria, in Proceedings of the IEEE GEM2014, pp 627-629, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 22–24, 2014
  17. ^ "Hydraulophone design considerations: Absement, displacement, and velocity-sensitive music keyboard in which each key is a water jet".  
  18. ^ Intelligent Image Processing, John Wiley and Sons, 2001
  19. ^ Society of Intelligent Veillance
  20. ^ Mann, S. (2014, June). The Sightfield: Visualizing Computer Vision, and Seeing Its Capacity to" See". In Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops (CVPRW), Keynote Address, 2014 IEEE Conference on (pp. 618-623). IEEE.
  21. ^ "Committee of IEEE ISTAS - Social Implications of Living in a SmartWorld". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  22. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2012-07-23. 
  23. ^ Mann, S. (May–June 2001). "Wearable computing:toward humanistic intelligence". Intelligent Systems 16 (3): 10–15.  
  24. ^  
  25. ^ " as roving reporter; (c) Steve Mann, Feb. 1995". Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  26. ^ "Cyborg Law Course". Wearable Computing and Interaction Design. Retrieved 2012-07-23. 
  27. ^ "Co-investigators & collaborators". On the Identity Trail. Retrieved 2012-07-23. 
  28. ^ "GlassEyes": The Theory of EyeTap Digital Eye Glass, supplemental material to IEEE Technology and Society, Vol. 31, No. 3, Fall 2012, pp. 10-14
  29. ^ Schofield, Jack (2012-04-05). "Google Project Glass: will we really wear digital goggles?".  
  30. ^ Clarke, Peter (2000-02-08). "ISSCC: 'Dick Tracy' watch watchers disagree".  
  31. ^  
  32. ^ "The Invention of the First Wearable Computer Online paper by Edward O. Thorp of Edward O. Thorp & Associates" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  33. ^ Steve Mann; Hal Niedzviecki (2001). Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer. Randomhouse Doubleday.  
  34. ^ Broken Glass: Father of wearable computing allegedly assaulted, Slashgear, Chris Davies, Jul 17th 2012
  35. ^ What may be the world’s first cybernetic hate crime unfolds in French McDonald’s
  36. ^ Stenovec, Timothy (12 July 2012). "Steve Mann, Inventor, Allegedly Attacked At Paris McDonald's For Wearing Digital Eye Glass (PHOTOS)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  37. ^ Duportail, Judith (17 July 2012). "Un malvoyant se plaint d'une agression dans un McDonald's" [A visually impaired person complains of an assault in a McDonald's]. Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  38. ^ Mann, Steve (16 July 2012). "Physical assault by McDonald's for wearing Digital Eye Glass". Blogspot. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  39. ^ Piltch, Avram (17 July 2012). "Cyborg Steve Mann details alleged McDonald’s assault". Laptop Mag ( 
  40. ^ Unanswered letter to McDonald's Head of Customer Services
  41. ^ Pourquoi les appareils informatisés d'aide à la vision sont ils interdits chez Mac Donalds, et pourquoi Mac Donalds est-il devenu un justicier garant de lois qui n'existent peut-être pas?
  42. ^ "McDonald’s Statement on Dr. Mann Situation". Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  43. ^ Piltch, Avram. "'"McDonald's claims employees didn't assault 'cyborg. Laptop Mag ( 


See also

Additional news items soon appeared thereafter, e.g. "Broken glass: Father of wearable computing allegedly assaulted",[34] and "What may be the world's first cybernetic hate crime...",[35] etc.[36][37] Due to the employee's alleged rough handling of the device, which he claimed was soundly attached to his head, the temporary storage buffer in the computer system could no longer be overwritten by new images, the damage to the system thus causing photos of these persons to remain stored in the glass memory. These were published, with faces concealed, on Mann's weblog.[38] He also claims that his iPhone and the control board for the EyeTap were damaged after he was thrown out and his bladder released involuntarily, soaking the contents of his pockets.[39] Currently, McDonald's has stated that their investigation of this issue has concluded, according to their response to Mann, and McDonald's Head of Customer Service has failed to respond to an open letter from Mann, dated 2012 August 17.[40] McDonald's defense has been limited only to witness statements from their employees, and they have refused to answer a request that they examine their surveillance videos. A shorter letter in French, also remains unanswered.[41] Their official statement remains somewhat out-of-date as per these more recent open letter correspondences.[42][43]

Additional news items associated with the 2012 July 1st French "McDoGate" incident

As a result of this incident, rather than bringing legal action against McDonald's, Mann teamed up with the IEEE (world's largest technical society), the ACLU, and some industry leaders such as the Pete Wassell, CEO of Augmate Corporation, to propose the Mann-Wassell law for presentation to the New York legislature (alternate link), as well an IEEE conference on the topic of Veillance. The goal of this work is to create a legal, policy, and social climate to counteract the actions of companies like McDonald's, that are likely to have a chilling effect on the research and use of Augmediated Reality technologies in everyday life. In this context, Mann also formalized the concept of McVeillance as placing people under surveillance while simultaneously forbidding them from using their own cameras. More precisely, McVeillance was defined as the ratio (linearly) or difference (logarithmically) of surveillance to sousveillance. (alternate link) McVeillance is one of the topics of the IEEE conference.

Subsequently Mann sent a much shorter letter, in French, to McDonald's Head of Customer Service, but also received no reply. (alternate link)

Within a day, this incident was posted on reddit under the title "Steve Mann, father of wearable computing, physically assaulted by McDonald's for wearing Digital Eye Glass," quickly becoming the top post on the site. The subsequent media coverage resulted in Mann being successful in contacting McDonald's Head of Customer Service, but only to receive a denial, not an apology. Mann requested a review of the video surveillance recordings from the many surveillance cameras in this McDonald's establishment, but received no further replies from McDonald's. (alternate link)

On July 16, 2012, after numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact McDonalds, Mann published a first-person account of a July 1st 2012 incident from when he and his family were eating dinner at BFI Champs Elysées, a McDonald's restaurant in Paris, France, as follows (excerpt):

Mann's "Veillance Compass" diagram, indicating the relationship between Surveillance, Sousveillance, and their ratio or difference, McVeillance.

McVeillance and the Mann-Wassel Law

  • Intelligent Image Processing ISBN 0-471-40637-6
  • Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer Randomhouse Doubleday 2001
  • The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP): A Wiley Tech Brief ISBN 0-471-39992-2
  • International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction 2003: Special Issue : Mediated Reality ISBN 0-8058-9604-X
  • Advanced Palm Programming: Developing Real-World Applications ISBN 0-471-39087-9

Mann is author of more than 200 publications, including a textbook on electric eyeglasses and a popular culture book on day-to-day cyborg living. Selected works:


Mann has also been described as "the world's first [33]

Mann has been referred to as the "father of wearable computing",[29][30][31] having created the first general-purpose wearable computer, in contrast to previous wearable devices that perform one specific function such as time-keeping (e.g. wristwatch), calculations (e.g. wearable abacus), such as Edward O. Thorp and Claude Shannon's, timing devices concealed in shoes cigarette packs for cheating at a game of roulette.[32]

Media coverage

Self-portraits of Mann with "Digital Eye Glass" (wearable computer and Augmediated Reality systems) from 1980s to 2000s[28]

[27] Mann is presently collaborating with a number of researchers including Ian Kerr,

Anonequity project

His CyborGLOGS ('glogs), such as the spontaneous reporting of news as everyday experience,[25] were an early predecessor of 'blogs and the concept of blogging, and earlier than that, his pre-internet-era live streaming of personal documentary and cyborg communities defined cyborg-logging as a new form of social networking.

  • Mann, together with Professor Humanistic Intelligence.[23]
  • Joi Ito, a leading researcher in moblogging, credits Mann with having initiated the moblogging movement by creating a system for transmission of realtime pictures, video, and text. In particular, from 1994 to 1996, Mann continuously transmitted his life's experiences, in real time, to his website for others to experience, interact with, and respond to[24]


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