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Man Physically Assaulted At McDonald's For Wearing Digital Eye Glasses 1198

RockoW writes "Steve Mann, a long-time researcher of computer vision systems, (i.e. Augmented reality, Digital Eyeglass) had an incident at a McDonald's in Paris, France. He was assaulted by three men during his visit to get food with his family. They had a problem with his digital eye glasses and tried to take them off his head. 'The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.' The men also tore up Mann's documentation and a letter from his doctor explaining the device's use. Fortunately, the rough treatment of the device caused it to keep recent images in its memory, instead of quickly overwriting them, so Dr. Mann has pictures of the men who assaulted him."
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Man Physically Assaulted At McDonald's For Wearing Digital Eye Glasses

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:22AM (#40670865)

    but just doesn't understand why they won't leave him alone

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:26AM (#40670883)

    Subject says it all

    • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:33AM (#40673557) Journal
      Everyone fears what is different from themselves, [] or what they have accepted as a social norm. [] It's an evolutionary trait that allows humans to live and work in groups, and allows primitive tribes to keep sick individuals from infecting the rest of the tribe.

      Eventually most of us learn to ignore this trait as our higher thinking can do a better job of perceiving what is a threat and what is not. Apparently these individuals perceived this man's uniqueness as a threat on some level, so they attacked him. It doesn't excuse this behavior, but that's what happened.

      There was a very good episode of the TV show Head Games [] about this topic. They had some actors do things that go against our social norms, like refusing to stand in line. Those actors were nearly physically assaulted.
    • by invid ( 163714 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:33AM (#40673559)

      The most significant issues here are the implications of wearing a camera on your head and recording your life all the time. Here we have one problem in doing so, French McDonald's employees. Another problem is that Steve Mann probably wears his device in in the men's room and may incidentally record people doing things they might not want recorded. As such devices become less conspicuous we are going to get more incidents with wearable live cams, and we all will be recorded more often than we may wish.

      And why the heck is everyone talking about race? Race is completely off topic.

  • Just to clarify (Score:5, Informative)

    by isorox ( 205688 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:28AM (#40670899) Homepage Journal

    It's important to clarify (as I had to RTFA to realise this), that he claims he was assaulted by 3 employees of McDonalds

    This wasn't a random assault by other customers at some shady McDonalds at 3AM, nor was it an assault by a typical skinhead -- from the photos the alleged perpetrators were McDonalds Management.

    He's not the first person to claim McDonalds staff in France assault their customers. []

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @08:11AM (#40672143)

      assaulted by 3 employees of McDonalds

      This story would be definitely more interesting if the man assaulted 3 McDonald's employees with his Digital Eye Glasses.

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:36AM (#40670967)

    Man travels to France. Chooses to eat at McDonald's. Seriously. Then COMPLAINS he gets beaten up!

    • It happens. I was in a huge food court in Kuala Lumpur where the goodness only starts with the Malaysian food, The place was seriously crowded and I noticed a young English couple (they looked that way, I could tell) perched on a little ledge meakly eating subway sandwiches.

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:37AM (#40670977)
    "Upon ordering, McDonaldâ(TM)s employees at 140, Avenue Champs Elysees, Paris accosted Mann and tried to tear the glasses out of his head"

    It does not sound like a random attack but employee action. Which brings me to think there was a prior history we were not told, for example he telling them it is a camera, them asking him to remove it, and not believing him when he refuses to switch it off or remove it. It does not excuse employee behavior if they assaulted him really, or manhandled him, but OTOH he cannot film random passerby or customer in a premise at will. And I am willing to bet that it was the bone the employee had. OTOH it could be simply dumb people doing dumb things, but I am always very very warry when somebody tell employee attacked them without reason. Random thug attack without reason. Employee not so much. (again i am not saying those reason were not valid, but that we hear only one side here).
  • by acidfast7 ( 551610 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:40AM (#40670989)

    This story is borderline plausible.

    I can believe that some Parisians would vigorously defend against photos being take of the interior design/menu.

    I can also believe that someone would wear augmented reality glasses. Furthermore, I can understand that (a) McDonalds employee(s) would automatically react strongly to the camera and try to remove them from someone's head.

    However, what I don't understand is why the subject of the story just didn't leave McDonalds. Honestly, you're in a city full of excellent, and sometimes inexpensive, cuisine.

    Why even go to McDonalds in the first place and why not leave when there's an altercation? Is the 20€ of McDs food worth the hassle?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:54AM (#40671079)

    He tried to order a Quarter Pounder with cheese and refused to call it a Royale with cheese.

    Clearly it was his own fault...

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @06:16AM (#40671229) Homepage

    He is the guy who INVENTED wearable computing and all the technology behind Project Glass.

  • by macson_g ( 1551397 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @06:24AM (#40671285)
    If someone physically is present in Paris and still goes to McDonalds to get his meal, then he deservers to be assaulted :)
  • by evilandi ( 2800 ) <> on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:53AM (#40673105) Homepage

    Whilst I don't doubt for a moment that Parisian fast food operatives can be rude and physically pushy, it does appear from TFA that he had communication issues and a tendency to be rather arrogant (the whole article starts with "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I'M AN ACKNOWLEDGED GENIUS!" and works its way from there).

    McDonalds in France (and in the UK and many other countries) do not allow still cameras, video cameras or other recording equipment to be operated inside their restaurants without explicit permission from the managers.

    This is clearly labelled on all the doors as you go in, not just in words, but a picture of a camera crossed out.

    If you don't agree, go elsewhere, problem avoided.

    What seems to have happened is that an attention-seeking American ignored these notices. He was then asked to put away the recording equipment, and he didn't comply. At that point he was probably asked to leave, but from TFA I'm not convinced he knew enough French to realise what was being asked of him. A scuffle then broke out.

    It's important to note that on private premises, the staff can ask you to leave for any reason (it's their shop, not yours) and if you refuse, they can legally use reasonable force. Same anywhere in Europe. In larger cities where they have lots of troublemakers they will even employ professional bouncers (doormen, security guards) to enforce this, but anyone acting with the owner's consent can chuck you out, physically if need be. My first wife was even directly instructed by the police to physically manhandle unruly customers out of her amusement arcade rather than calling 999 (911/112), which seeing as she was a 6'2" amazonian and her customers were weedy videogaming teenagers was rather one-sided, and probably not the Xena experience they had fantasised about. Point is, shop staff can ask you to leave, they don't have to give you a reason, and if you don't comply, they can physically chuck you out perfectly legally.

    Now there's clearly a question about whether the amount of force used was reasonable, but that question only arose because he ignored or refused to comply with what is a very, very reasonable request: People in restaurants generally don't want to be filmed. If he's too ignorant or arrogant to deal with that, then scuffles such as the one he described are entirely predictable.

    As if to reinforce people's view of him as arrogant and out-of-touch, he appears to have looked up American contact information on WHOIS rather than using the phone number on a French-language website; seemingly he thinking a bunch of IT infrastructure engineers 8,000 miles away are going to be able to do anything about bouncers in a fast food restaurant in a foreign country.

    In short, the moral of the tale is: If you're in a foreign country and you're pissing people off, consider the possibility that the foreign country has different social norms than what you're used to, and adapt appropriately. If you're not prepared to accept that, rip up your passport and stay at home.

    I mean, heck, I'm not a fan of Catholicism, but I'm not rude or arrogant enough to expect to be able to visit French cathedrals wearing beach shorts without getting an old lady jabbing a sharp, painful and accusing finger into my hide, and even if I did, I'd take it as an indication that *I* was the one doing something wrong.

    People are trying to relax and eat, put your recording equipment away dude!

    (And I don't for a moment buy the argument that the digital glasses aren't recording equipment. Exhibit A, the still photos on the chap's web page.)

    The bloke was being a dick.

    • by Wattos ( 2268108 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:05AM (#40673917)

      In short, the moral of the tale is:

      In short, the moral of the tale is that you are an idiot. Just because he was having a camera, does not mean he is recording anything. Next you will want to assault anyone talking on a smartphone. After all it also has camera and he might be just faking the conversation.

      (And I don't for a moment buy the argument that the digital glasses aren't recording equipment. Exhibit A, the still photos on the chap's web page.)

      RTFA. It clearly says that it only records the images when it detects being damaged.

      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.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus