James Fung – Nov 7, 2007

So from my discussion with Raymond Lo, I contacted James Fung. He has been a long time participant in Mann’s projects and has himself been a Cyborg in the past. He is currently working on commercial applications for the Glogger project. I sat down with James and talked about his experiences with Mann, being a Cyborg and Wearable Technology in general.

How did you get started into Wearable Computing?
In my 4th year of undergrad, I thought Steve’s stuff was interesting so I took one of his Cyborg classes.

What were some of your first impressions of Steve Mann?
He is really creative, an engineer and a bit of a philosopher. He’s the type of guy who has ideas and can take them beyond the technical implications.

What is it like to interact with Steve?
Generally you have really interesting conversations. He is a really creative person and views the world differently. I don’t always agree with what he says, but he gets you thinking about the world in a different way.

How did it feel to become a Cyborg?
I was a Cyborg off and on for about 5 years. The longest I ever wore the gear continuously was for 2 weeks. It was pretty interesting; the devices were larger back then. A lot of people were interested in what I was doing, so I talked to people a lot more. It’s like having a personal sphere of information around you.

Did your interactions with people change?

I had a lot of conversations, there were some social issues regarding surveillance in prohibited and restricted areas. When someone doesn’t want you taking their picture with your automatic system it’s like asking someone to take their shirt off.

What are some of the benefits of wearable computing?
Communications and instant access to a computer. I can access information (like wikipedia or google) during a conversation and sound like I know what I am talking about. The other is being constantly online for things like social networking.

There was a case recently where a driver had a gps unit in his vehicle and was able to challenge the police over an accusation of speeding. This is called ‘Breaking the Monopoly of Fact’

What are some of the drawbacks of wearable computing?

Situations where people don’t want their picture taken or people don’t want you online. This can cause some friction; it’s the relation between technology and authority.

One time at the airport I was going through security and the guard told me it made her nervous that I was directly connected to the internet (maybe chatting with my lawyer?)

What social applications do you think wearable computing has?
It provides constancy, wearable computing is always ready to receive and always ready to display.

There are also things like Twitter and status lines (Facebook or MSN) that can add to more casual interaction between friends and strangers (like someone leaving a notice they are going to rent a movie and someone seeing if they want to hang out together, etc.)

Remote collaboration, for example a field engineer could contact the home office out in the field to get some information for his work.

Any initial thoughts about my project?
Well if you go with a helmet, people might want to try it on. People were asking if they would try on the EyeTap stuff all the time.

The more refined the outfit looks, the more publicly it will be accepted. Especially if it looks corporate or has a logo on it. But people will be less interested in interacting; they will think it’s a publicity gimmick.

The less refined it looks the more personal interaction you will have with people who are genuinely interested.

Raymond Lo – Oct 31, 2007

I was introduced to Raymond by way of Steve Mann. He thought I would be interested in hearing about the Glogger project. So I met with Raymond and talked about Glogger and his experiences working with Steve Mann and his views on wearable technology.Glogger was started about 3 years ago as part of a project initiated by Steve Mann and his students. It is a cellphone application that allows the user to take pictures and immediately upload them tone or more internet sites. It also allows for streaming audio/video broadcasts.

Glogger is about providing a means for decentralizing images, it is a critical response to the control and ownership of surveillance footage.

When I asked about his experience working with Steve, Raymond commented that Steve is just Steve, Steve is in a slightly different world and is slightly isolated. But there is a level of curiosity when he is out in public.

We talked about wearable computing, how the world is changing and that wearable computing devices are not so invasive anymore. That beyond mobile technology, wearing technology will be the next big step and that it could be a great way to increase public safety.

For more about Glogger, you can check out the website http://glogger.mobi/about.php