An interview with Steve Mann

New York Time's Bits recently conducted an interview with Steve Mann, one of the great pioneers in wearable tech, who talked about "mediated reality" and where he thinks wearable tech is heading. "Steve Mann is considered by many to be the world’s first cyborg. He has been using wearable computers that assist his vision since the 1970s. Now he wears a display screen over his right eye and is connected to a computer and the Internet. In this edited interview, he discusses 'mediated reality'; the coming wearable-computing wars among Apple, Google and RIM; and the brain-computer interface. Are you the first cyborg? Yes. If you look through the history of wearables, I was named the father of wearable computing, or the world’s first cyborg. But the definition of wearable computing can be kind of fuzzy itself. Thousands of years ago, in China, people would wear an abacus around their neck — that, in one sense, was a wearable computer.

Will we all be cyborgs soon? It’s kind of obvious that everyone is moving along that trajectory. What I envisioned back in the 1970s was this thing you would wear as “glass” over your right eye, and you could see the world though that glass. The glass then reconfigures the things you see.

Unlike smartphones, where we have to look at our devices, will wearables look at us? There’s research showing that glass looks at people, but now wearable computers are people looking at. You just end there, at “at.” That’s what makes it so deliciously wonderful."

Continue reading on Bits. Image is of Steve Mann via Bits.

Glasses make sounds visible

With the announcement of Google Glass recently, there's been a growing drumbeat around heads-up displays. The latest focuses on people suffering from hearing loss. The Himri Glasses, created by Daniele Silvestri and co-owned by Andrea Chagnon, make sounds visible to users with hearing impairments. The glasses detect surrounding noises, analyze their amplitudes and volume and displays a graphic visualization of the sound on the sides of the lenses. Notifications alert wearers about approaching cars and wailing alarms to help avoid any accidents. What's nice about this design is that the aesthetics and styling is considered, making the solution more appealing to users to actually wear. Also, interactive heads-up displays should not be about replicating the phone experience onto eyewear lenses. Don't give me a bunch of UI that comes at me at all times! This concept is an example of how you can use the unique formfactor and body placement of glasses in a unique and useful way to solve a simple problem. Well done Silvestri.

More info and images at Industrial Design Served.