It’s unbelievable, what a tech genius has to go through these days just to get a chicken wrap: Professor Steve Mann said he and his family were at a McDonald’s in Paris when employees accosted him, trying to rip his camera away from him before kicking him out. Problem was, the unit he was carrying was physically installed in his head.
A University of Toronto professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and pioneer of augmented reality–equipped wearable technology, Mann has spent three decades developing the EyeTap, a system that allows for the continuous recording and streaming of AR data. It works via a device worn over the eye, sort of like Google Glass.
Unlike Google Glass, however, Mann’s glasses were literally attached to his head. (A special tool is used to remove the bolted device from his skull.) But, according to Mann, that didn’t stop the McDonald’s employees at 140, Avenue Champs Elysees, Paris from approaching the professor and trying to yank it away. Even after they were presented with a doctor’s letter explaining the gear, they “angrily crumpled and ripped up the letter,” he said.
So what’s going on here? Are burger flippers afraid of “existential technology”? Do they have some sort of cyborg-phobia? Maybe, maybe not, but in this case, there seems to be a more mundane reason: McDonald’s staffers (particularly in Paris) just don’t seem to like people taking pictures inside their locations. They’re not alone — a lot of retailers take a hard line with interior photographs. Crazy but true, a friend of mine was once arrested for “causing a public disturbance,” thanks to a store owner who took issue with her comparison-shopping wedding invitations. Like the Parisian McDonald’s employees, the proprietor attempted to rip her camera off of her. (Well, at least hers wasn’t bolted to her skull.)
Let’s call this what it is: archaic policies from retailers and other service businesses that are unable to deal with modern tech. We may not be at the point when people en masse are willing to implant their gadgets, but digital cameras and smartphones are already everywhere. And image and video capture are only going to get more traction as wearable technology advances. In other words, burger joints, stores and other businesses better brace themselves. If they had problems with camera-packing customers in the past, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
Have you ever gotten in trouble at a store or restaurant for snapping photos or video? Tell us what happened and how the retailer handled it below.
UPDATE: McDonald’s denies that the employees at this franchise laid hands on Mann (though it also states that it’s not finished investigating the matter). For more on this, click here.