Steve Mann, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto and inventor of the EyeTap computer vision system, was allegedly physically assaulted at a McDonald’s branch in Paris after employees spotted him wearing the device. According to Mann, during a month-long summer vacation with his family in Paris, France, they happen to drop by at a McDonald’s chain in 140, Avenue Champs Elysees. While waiting in line to order food, an employee reportedly approached him, inquiring about his digital glass.
A few minutes later, while eating his Ranch Wrap, a man allegedly assaulted him and attempted to pull the glass off his head (the glasses are attached to the head and don’t come off easily). Attempting to calm down the aggressive employee, Mann proceeded to present a letter from his doctor together with a documentation of EyeTap to prove that the device was legit. Still not convinced and seemingly suspicious, another employee crumpled the documents and pushed him out of the door. You can read the rest of Mann’s account via his blog.
Steve Mann, also known as the world’s first cyborg and the father of wearable computing, invented the first version of EyeTap in 1981. Mann believes that digital eyeglasses will ultimately replace traditional glasses in the future. “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,” Mann said.
So far, there is no word from the French Police, which may or may not work on the case (…), and McDonald France has not commented on the matter. Mann has found another instance where an American woman was assaulted by French McDonald employees in for snapping a photo of a menu. He says that he is not seeking monetary compensation other than having his device fixed.
McDonald’s France apparently forbids the use of cameras/imaging devices in its stores (I have never heard or seen this rule, but this is apparently the case). Also, the rule doesn’t seem to take into account that some people may wear a prosthesis of some kind (Steve Mann wears it to help with vision issues, not for leisure). While this is private property, do you think that what appears to be employees untrained to confront customers should physically take away what appears to be rather plain photos? Instead, shouldn’t they just ask them to leave the premises? Drop a comment to tell us what you think.
Update: MacDonald’s France has posted something today on their Facebook page. An approximate translation would read like:
“We have been informed today that a complaint was filed by a Canadian customer about an physical altercation with McDonald’s personnel in a Parisian store on the evening of July 1st.
Like with every customer complaint, we will make a though-rough investigation to shed the light on all the facts. Of course, if the facts do implicate one or more McDonald’s personnel, we take take appropriate action.
At the moment, we will ask for your patience while we gather information on this event that happened more than two weeks ago.”
Interestingly, Steve Mann has been trying to reach McDonald’s since July 1st, so it will be interesting to see how much the company listens to its customers. McDonald’s points out that the investigation is still open.
Update 2 (7/18): McDonald’s has contacted Ubergizmo directly to provide an official statement in which the company basically denies any wrongdoing by its store employees. There is still no update from the French Police, and at this point, it doesn’t seem like any judicial investigation is going on. The reaction to this statement on social networks was rather negative as most comments focus on how aggressive McDonald’s employees look like, most notably when they seemingly rip some documents apart.
Update 3 (7/18): McDonald’s also said that Steve Mann was asked to leave the restaurant at some point. The company spokesperson could not indicate any company policy against digital imaging devices however. Instead, they indicated that it is up to each franchise owner to set their own rules. Steve Mann never mentioned being asked to leave, and so far we haven’t seen any comments from him about this. Many McDonald’s restaurants have video-surveillance, so if the franchise in question was to release the video footage (if there is one), it would help clear things up.