Mann controls his reality

If Steve Mann sees a billboard he doesn’t like, he presses the kill button on his keyer. The next time he looks, the billboard isn’t there.

Considered by some to be the inventor of wearable computing, Mann, who is a professor at the University of Toronto, has decided to “regain control” of his space. Mann views the world through a pair of glasses that he invented, which mediate the reality that he sees.

“I wear dark glasses, but can see the real world,” Mann said during a Toronto event organized by Mississauga, Ont.-based Information Technology Association of Canada and Kanata, Ont.-based Communications and Information Technology Ontario.

Mann’s eyeglasses are opaque – no light can get through them. But they are powered by Eyetap technology, which he said allows his eyes to act both as a camera and a display device.

The Eyetap glasses collect the light that would otherwise go into Mann’s eyes, turn it into numbers and resynthesize it into laser light, which the glasses project into his eyes. The glasses, along with a high-tech vest, connect Mann to the Internet. Now, instead of the offending billboard, which he likens to spam, Mann can project e-mail messages his wife and friends send him into that same space.