Steve Mann's Keynote Address at the McLuhan Symposium on Culture and
Technology, Friday October 23 from 4:00 - 5:30
I AM A CAMERA: Humanistic Intelligence...
There is so much material, in a complicated web of interconnected
links, that the only way to really organize it seems to be chronologically
Thus I'll start with a short chronology from my early visions and
embodiments of WearComp (wearable computer) and WearCam (wearable camera)
in the 1970s to where we are today.
Looking 20 years back (in Canada in the 1970s)
- WearComp (visual output, pushbutton inputs)
invented in Canada in the 1970s (Mann) for photographic applications
- Application: collaborative `lightspace'
- Founding of a genre of photography called `dusting'.
- Dusting was the motivation/origin of Personal Imaging;
by late 1970s, WearComp invention equipped with
full-duplex wireless capabilities, principles for a community
of `photoborgs' set forth, connectivity...
Looking 10 years back (in Canada in the 1980s)
- Further developments+improvements of the WearComp, WearCam invention.
- Early 1980s: WearComp+biosensors (McMaster University in Canada)
- Mid 1980s:
Sparked by complaints from paranoid security guards in various places
(such as the TTC, shopping malls, etc.), Mann takes a personal interest
in wearable recording devices and privacy issues related to
wearable computers/cameras, etc..
- 1985: Mann formulates the
concept of `reflectionism', and comes to the
realization that individuals should be able to protect themselves with
personal safety camera if under surveillance by an establishment's
- If the pen is mightier than the sword, then perhaps the camera
is mightier than the gun. ShootingBack.
- Late 1980s: BlindVision: WearComp+radar+vibravest system for the
Recent past (in the United States in the 1990s)
- 1991: Mann brought his WearComp/WearCam inventions to MIT,
installed his wireless infrastructure he brought from Canada,
and starting, in 1991,
what was to eventually become the MIT Wearable Computing Project.
- PLAY VIDEO SEGMENT, STARTING APPROX. 4 SEC. IN FROM BEGINNING.. FF
- See a typical N1NLF installation
- 1992: had a vision of community of cyborgs; applied for radio license
obtained in 1992... New England Spectrum Management Council
100kHz specificially for community of cyborgs.
- 1991-1993: first 2 years at MIT were years of lonliness.
- Away from family, but still connected through WearComp
- Was the only person at MIT with any kind of wearable computer at that time
- 1993: potential end to lonliness in sight... talented fellow named Platt
builds a WearComp for fellow MIT student Starner.
- Although this rig was text-only, and wasn't connected to the Internet,
at least there was one other cyborg at MIT.
- 1995: Mann develops
covert embodiment of WearCam/WearComp invention
(in ordinary thin-frame eyeglasses).
- 1995: Mann and others assist newcomers in becoming cyborgs.
- 1995: Faculty members officially recognize this effort.
- 1994-1996: Mann's nearly continuous 2 year long personal documentary
video in Mediated Reality with full-duplex wireless video,
often reaching 30 frames/second both ways simultaneoulsy.
Lab's first WWW server which Mann set up in his
office, hosted wearable wireless webcam.
- 1996: Mann develops
full-colour covert embodiment of WearCam/WearComp
invention (in ordinary sunglasses).
- 1996: Mann proposes to IEEE Computer Society (including President)
an international symposium on wearable computing. Overwhelming
"yes" from all contacted in IEEE: indicates strong potential for
scholarly basis for future WearComp research.
- 1997: Mann becomes interested in
the work of Arthur Kroker,
Paul Virilio (read `Vision Machine', etc.) and re-thinks some
of his early ideas in these new contexts.
Documentary video `ShootingBack' presented at
Symposium Lecture, Ars Electronica, Linz.
Along with the lecture, Mann presents a week-long performance
addressing privacy issues and wearable recording devices.
- Theoretical framework
- 1997: PLAY SHOOTINGBACK VIDEO, FIRST, CONTEXT, AND LAST SEGMENTS.
Present (in Canada, 1997, 1998)