Steve Mann

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Steve Mann (born 1962, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)


Dr. Steve Mann, born 1962, in Ontario, Canada, is a living laboratory for the cyborg life-style. He is one of the leaders in WearComp (wearable computing) and one of the integral members of the Wearable computing group at MIT Media Lab. He is known more recently for being intercepted and physically removed from a McDonald’s restaurant in France for wearing a wearable camera attached to a heads up display [1].

Dr. Mann believes computers should be designed to function in ways organic to human needs rather than requiring humans to adapt to demanding requirements of technology. Mann has developed computer systems — both wearable and embedded — to augment biological systems and capabilities during all waking hours. His work touches a wide range of disciplines from implant technology to sousveillance (inverse surveillance), privacy, cyber security and cyborg-law.

Mann first experimented with wearable computing in high school in the 70s [2] At MIT he literally bristled with equipment, wearing 80 pounds of computing equipment to class. Moore’s Law, however, has continuously reduced the form factor. In 1994 Mann introduced a Wearable Wireless Webcam that transmitted images for “cyber-logging” on a webpage in near real-time [3]. Later his EyeTap camera worn over one eye provided wearers with computer-mediated visions of reality. Recent versions are virtually invisible on frames of glasses.

Dr. Mann has written that “unlike other computers (including laptops and PDAs), a WearComp is inextricably intertwined with its wearer - WearComp's ‘always ready’ characteristic leads to a new form of synergy between human and computer" [4]. Mann sees this as relying on three operational modalities. The first is constancy, which is about technology designed to be available at any time or place. Signals run from computer to human and human to computer constantly. The second is augmentation, which defines the technology as serving to augment human activities. In other words, computers are not seen as primary, but as always being in service to human sensing, needs and priorities. The third is mediation, which is about encapsulating the human user with a protective solitude and privacy. The technology can filter or block information coming in (solitude.) Or it can filter or block information from leaking out (privacy.)


Dr. Steve Mann is author of more than 200 publications. His 2001 book Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer provides a popular culture view of day-to-day cyborg life ( . CYBERMAN, a feature film about his life and work, was released the same year [5]. Dr. Mann’s research and activities are visible online at and Mann received a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT in 1997 [6].


  • Mann, Steve. Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer. Randomhouse Doubleday 2001.

Related Reading


Mann, Steve. Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer. Randomhouse Doubleday 2001.


  1. Mann, Steve. Physical assault by McDonald's for wearing Digital Eye Glass
  2. Rhodes, Bradley. A brief history of wearable computing.
  3. Steve Mann, "An historical account of the 'WearComp' and 'WearCam' inventions developed for applications in 'Personal Imaging,'" in The First International Symposium on Wearable Computers: Digest of Papers, IEEE Computer Society, 1997, pp. 66–73
  4. Mann, Steve. Wearcomp. Adapted from Steve Mann's address Wearable Computing as Means for Personal Empowerment. Accessed 8 Apr. 2012.
  5. IMDB - Cyberman
  6. Mann, Steve. Personal Alumni Webpage at