Steve Mann and the Rise of Sousveillance

Watching Dr. Steve Mann present at Digifest 2015 was witnessing innovation on steroids. Often called 'The Father of Wearable Technology,' Mann is a Hamilton-born researcher and inventor, who has been experimenting with how to integrate technology into the body for almost 40 years. (#IMMT731)

  1. Steve Mann's Bio: wearcam.org/biowaw.htm">Steve Mann made Toronto an epicentre of wearable tech with his wearable inventions including the smartwatch videophone, HDR, and the EyeTap Digital Glass which predates Google Glass by 30 years. In 1992 Mann took this invention from Toronto to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founding the MIT Media Lab's Wearable Computing project as its first member. Mann is the Chief Scientist at the Creative Destruction Lab at Rotman’s School of Management, co-founder of InteraXon and the Chief Scientist at Meta, a California-based startup, wearable AR glasses.
  2. On May 8, Dr. Mann received Digifest's Digital Pioneer Award to recognize his career as a lifelong inventor and teacher.
  3. Digifest's Digital Pioneer Award recognizes a person who:
    * Embraces the unknown and stands at the forefront of innovation
    * Creates work that explores previously unimagined uses for emerging technologies
    * Is the first to develop, use or apply technology in a way that has not been previously conceived
    * Takes a creative approach to solving complex problems and uses it to impact culture and industry

    Mann fits the bill on all accounts almost to a metamorphosis level; he's been described by media as the 'world's first cyborg' (a being with organic and biometric parts). However, he rejects this description as "too vague." (Source - Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer, by Steve Mann and Hal Niedzviecki)
  4. At the conference, Dr. Mann also demonstrated his leadership and integrity....
  5. This Digital Pioneer Award recipient's work was integrated throughout Digifest's three-day event -- from musical interludes created via his water-driven hydraulophone to in-depth presentations.
  6. Dr. Mann's hydraulphone uses pressurized hydraulic fluid, which is usually water, to create sound. You play it by placing your fingers directly over the holes so they come in direct contact with the water (or other hydraulic fluid) to create sound.
  7. He even delivered the most energetic and possibly creative tech presentation I've ever seen: push-ups to create music with his innovative instrument, while cradling a large exercise ball between his legs. (With this, he also proved brains and brawn can go together.)
  8. Dr. Mann profiled his diverse range of wearables. This includes early wearable computers to augmented reality (AR) gesture-based wearables and his Eye Tap Digital Eye Glass that enabled the wearer to look up information while walking and pre-dated Google Glass by more than 30 years. (Note: May 15 post links to Digifest relevant YouTube clip.)
  9. Dr. Mann also described and demonstrated the evolution of his abakography work -- from first learning to weld to creating colourful images of surveillance sight fields. For this, Mann moves a 'surveilluminescent wand' through space and uses a camera with a long or slow exposure to capture beautiful but also revealing images showing the depth of surveillance in our world.
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