My Augmediated Life: an essay about Steve Mann

Week 03

Steve Mann is an amazing character.
If you were to nominate one of the greatest experts in wearable technology, it is likely his name would be the first to come to mind.
Let us turn back for a moment to the ’70s, when Steve Mann already tried to unite his passion for custom-made helmets and technology; only now the matter is starting to gain strong public interest. As a pioneer, Mann has virtually experimented with every technical feature of these “visors” by using goggles, masks and even helmets with integrated lenses.
In his article “My “Augmediated” Life”, the professor from the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto, discusses the problems of misalignment between the eye and the display in his first experiments, which produced unpleasant results.


Troubling effects persisted after the gear was removed, because his brain had adjusted to an unnatural view, so it took a while to readjust to normal vision. Among other things, Mann emphasizes that heavy distortions strangely have lower recovery times, whereas a slightly offset viewpoint requires a longer time to recover from.
These same complications seriously concerned the professor, because there is a real possibility, from companies like Google, to compromise the eyesight of individuals if the technology is not properly configured. An occurrence like this would take this technology back to the drawing board, which is the last thing investors and designers would want to happen.
Moreover, this type of damage could become permanent, especially for youngsters, whose brains and eye muscles are still developing. For years researchers who dabble in augmented reality have struggled to find a solution to this difficult problem.
Thanks to his thirty-year long experiments, Steve Mann is an inspiration. His studies are beneficial for all those companies that are investing in this field, and who have found themselves in difficulty in recent times. The conquest for wearables of the future however remains challenging and expensive.