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Steve Mann (inventor)

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Steve Mann
Steve Mann with Generation-4 EyeTap
William Stephen George Mann

(1962-06-08) 8 June 1962 (age 62)
Alma materMcMaster University (B.Sc., B.Eng., M.Eng.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
Known for
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Toronto
ThesisPersonal imaging (1997)
Doctoral advisorRosalind Picard

William Stephen George Mann (born 8 June 1962) is a Canadian engineer, professor, and inventor who works in augmented reality, computational photography, particularly wearable computing, and high-dynamic-range imaging. Mann is sometimes labeled the "Father of Wearable Computing" for early inventions and continuing contributions to the field.[2][3][4] He cofounded InteraXon, makers of the Muse brain-sensing headband,[5][6][7][2][3][8] and is also a founding member of the IEEE Council on Extended Intelligence (CXI).[9][10] Mann is currently CTO and cofounder at Blueberry X Technologies and Chairman of MannLab. Mann was born in Canada, and currently lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife and two children. In 2023, Mann unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Toronto.

Early life and education[edit]

Mann holds a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences (1997) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.Sc., B.Eng. and M.Eng. from McMaster University in 1987, 1989 and 1992, respectively. He was also inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Hall of Fame, Alumni Gallery 2004, in recognition of his career as an inventor and teacher.[11] While at MIT, in then Director Nicholas Negroponte's words, "Steve Mann … brought the seed" that founded the Wearable Computing group in the Media Lab[12] and "Steve Mann is the perfect example of someone … who persisted in his vision and ended up founding a new discipline."[13][14] In 2004 he was named the recipient of the 2004 Leonardo Award for Excellence for his article "Existential Technology," published in Leonardo 36:1.[15][16]

He is also General Chair of the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society,[17] Associate Editor of IEEE Technology and Society, is a licensed Professional Engineer, and Senior Member of the IEEE,[18] as well as a member of the IEEE Council on Extended Intelligence (CXI).[19]


Mann is a tenured full professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with cross-appointments to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto, and is a Professional Engineer licensed through Professional Engineers Ontario.

Ideas and inventions[edit]

Mann with three of his inventions: EyeTap Digital Eye Glass, Smartwatch, and SWIM (Sequential Wave Imprinting Machine) phenomenological augmented reality.

Many of Mann's inventions pertain to the field of computational photography.

  • Chirplet transform, 1991: Mann was the first to propose and reduce to practice a signal representation based on a family of chirp signals, each associated with a coefficient, in a generalization of the wavelet transform that is now referred to as the chirplet transform.
  • "Digital Eye Glass," "Eye Glass," "Glass Eye," or "Glass", 1978: a device that, when worn, causes the human eye itself to effectively become both an electronic camera and a television display.[20]
  • Comparametric equations, 1993: Mann was the first to propose and implement an algorithm to estimate a camera's response function from a plurality of differently exposed images of the same subject matter. He was also the first to propose and implement an algorithm to automatically extend dynamic range in an image by combining multiple differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.[21][22][23]
  • High-dynamic-range imaging (HDR): "The first report of digitally combining multiple pictures of the same scene to improve dynamic range appears to be Mann." (Robertson et al.)[24] Mann's work on wearable computing was motivated by his early computer vision systems that helped people see better (e.g. while welding, or in other high-dynamic range situations, with dynamic range management, overlays, and augmentation as well as diminishment in both the additive and subtractive sense).[25]
  • Hydraulophone: Mann invented an experimental musical instrument that uses pressurized hydraulic fluid, such as water, to make sound. The instrument is played by placing the fingers in direct contact with the sound-producing hydraulic fluid, thus giving the musician a high degree of control over the musical expression in the sound.[26]
  • Integral kinematics and integral kinesiology: principles of negative derivatives (integrals) of displacement, such as absement (the area under the displacement-time curve), as embodied by hydraulophones (water-based instruments).[26] This work has been built upon by others, and also forms the basis for a new way of understanding electrical engineering.[27] See also Mann's 2014 paper, "Integral Kinematics (Time‐Integrals of Distance, Energy, etc.) and Integral Kinesiology."[28]
  • Natural user interface: In the 1980s and '90s, Mann developed a number of user-interface strategies using natural interaction with the real world as an alternative to a command-line interface (CLI) or graphical user interface (GUI). Mann referred to this work as "Natural User Interfaces", "Direct User Interfaces", and "Metaphor-Free Computing"[29]
  • Scratch input, an acoustic-based method of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) that takes advantage of the characteristic sound produced when a finger nail, stick, or other object strikes or is dragged over a surface, such as a table or wall.
  • Sensory Singularity, together with Marvin Minsky and Ray Kurzweil, Mann proposed the theory of the "Sensularity" Sensory Singularity and cyborg-logging.
  • Surveilluminescent wand: a device for visualizing vision and seeing sight, by way of making visible the sightfield (time-reversed lightfield) of a camera or similar computer vision sensor, using time-exposure with array of surveilluminescent lights to make visible to one camera what another camera can see.[30]
  • Telepointer and SixthSense, a wearable computer based on a pendant that contains a webcam and laser-based infinite depth-of-focus projector, and related technologies for gesture-based wearable computing systems.
  • Video Orbits,[31] 1993: Mann was the first to produce an algorithm for automatically combining multiple pictures of the same subject matter, using algebraic projective geometry, to "stitch together" images using automatically estimated perspective correction. This is called the "Video Orbits" algorithm.[32][33][34]
Surveilluminescent wand: When moved through space in a long-exposure photograph, it makes the sightfield of a surveillance camera visible.

Mann also works in the fields of computer-mediated reality.[35] He is a strong advocate of privacy rights, for which work he was an award recipient of the Chalmers Foundation in the fine arts. His work also extends to the area of sousveillance (a term he coined for "inverse surveillance"). Mann and one of his PhD students, James Fung, together with some of his other students, have been building a cyborg community around the cyborg-logging concept.[36]

  • Mann, together with Professor Ian Kerr at the University of Ottawa, has written extensively on surveillance, sousveillance, and equiveillance. "Sousveillance," a term coined by Mann, along with the concepts that he and Kerr have developed around these ideas, have created a new dialog for cyborg technologies, as well as related personal information gathering technologies like camera phones. He has created the related concept of humanistic intelligence.[37]
  • In 2003, Joi Ito credited Mann with having initiated the moblogging movement by creating a system for transmission of realtime pictures, video, and text. In particular, from 1994 to 1996, Mann continuously transmitted his life's experiences, in real time, to his website for others to experience, interact with, and respond to.[38]

His CyborGLOGS ('glogs), such as the spontaneous reporting of news as everyday experience,[39] were an early predecessor of 'blogs and the concept of blogging, and earlier than that, his pre-internet-era live streaming of personal documentary and cyborg communities defined cyborg-logging as a new form of social networking.

Anonequity project[edit]

Mann is currently collaborating with a number of researchers including Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology, University of Ottawa, who teaches a course on "Cyborg Law" that uses Mann's book.[40] Mann, together with Kerr and others, are doing an SSHRC-funded project to study the Ethics, Law & Technology of anonymity, authentication, surveillance, and sousveillance, in addition to issues related to cyborg-law. The anonequity project is ongoing, and collaborator Kerr has also researched and lectured widely on implantable technologies.[41]

Media coverage[edit]

Mann has been referred to as the "father of wearable computing",[42][43][44] having created the first general-purpose wearable computer, in contrast to previous wearable devices that perform one specific function such as time-keeping (e.g. wristwatch); calculations (e.g. wearable abacus); or Edward O. Thorp and Claude Shannon's wearable computers, which were timing devices concealed in shoes or cigarette packs and designed for gaining an advantage at roulette.[45][46]

Mann has also been described as "the world's first cyborg" in Canadian popular press such as NOW, The Globe and Mail, National Post, and Toronto Life, but has himself rejected the term "cyborg" as being too vague.[47]

In 2023, Steve Mann ran for Mayor of Toronto.[48] As part of his campaign he advocated for recreational swimming in Lake Ontario, and supported a petition to save the beach at Ontario Place.[49][50]


Mann is author of more than 200 publications, including a textbook on electric eyeglasses and a popular culture book on day-to-day cyborg living. Selected works:

  • Intelligent Image Processing ISBN 0-471-40637-6
  • Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer Randomhouse Doubleday 2001
  • The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP): A Wiley Tech Brief ISBN 0-471-39992-2
  • International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction 2003: Special Issue : Mediated Reality ISBN 0-8058-9604-X
  • Advanced Palm Programming: Developing Real-World Applications ISBN 0-471-39087-9

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McNeil, Mark (2008-11-24). "Filmmaker has futuristic vision". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 2008-11-24.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Tech Giant "Father of Wearable Tech" Steve Mann "Goes for The Ride" to YYD ROBO!, YYD Corporate News, 2017-07-31
  3. ^ a b "Father of Wearable Computing, Steve Mann, to Keynote FITC Wearables", by Nikolas Badminton, 2014-11-11, Toronto, Medium
  4. ^ Mitchell, Marit (2013-03-13). "Meet Steve Mann, father of wearable computing". University of Toronto. Retrieved 2020-11-28. Professor Steve Mann is known as the father of wearable computing...
  5. ^ "Steve Mann". Archived from the original on 2019-10-14. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
  6. ^ "Inventrepreneurship", by Matias Gutierrez, 19 November 2018
  7. ^ Bloomberg, Company Overview of InteraXon Inc., April 24, 2019 9:24 AM ET
  8. ^ Robarts, Stu (March 11, 2015). "Hands-on: Staying focused (or not) with the Muse brain-sensing headband". New Atlas. Archived from the original on February 1, 2023.
  9. ^ CXI - Council on Extended Intelligence, IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA), 2017
  10. ^ The Case for Extended Intelligence - IEEE, Technological Advancement in Service of People and Planet, Pages 1-48, Piscataway, New Jersey, 2018.
  11. ^ "Mann, Steve". McMaster University. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
  12. ^ "Video Interview". Wearable Computing and Interaction Design. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
  13. ^ Bangor Daily News – Sep 26, 1997
  14. ^ Part man, part machine – all nerd `Wearable computer' pioneer Steve Mann keeps one eye locked on the future, Toronto Star, Eric Shinn, July 8, 02:32 EDT
  15. ^ "2004 Leonardo Award for Excellence Given to Steve Mann". 2004-12-07. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  16. ^ Mann, Steve (2003). "Existential Technology: Wearable Computing Is Not the Real Issue!". Leonardo. 36 (1): 19–25. doi:10.1162/002409403321152239. JSTOR 1577273. S2CID 4495269.
  17. ^ "ISTAS'13". Veillance.me. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-21. Retrieved 2013-01-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "CXI - Council on Extended Intelligence | IEEE SA & MIT Media Lab". IEEE CXI. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  20. ^ Mann, Steve (November 2012). "Eye Am a Camera: Surveillance and Sousveillance in the Glassage". TIME.
  21. ^ "Comparametric Equations". Wearable Computing and Interaction Design. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
  22. ^ US 5706416  "Method and apparatus for relating and combining multiple images of the same scene or object(s)"
  23. ^ ""Compositing Multiple Pictures of the Same Scene", Proceedings of the 46th Annual Imaging Science & Technology Conference, May 9–14, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1993". Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  24. ^ Robertson; et al. (2003). "Estimation-theoretic approach to dynamic range enhancement using multiple exposures". Journal of Electronic Imaging. 12 (2): 220, right column, line 26. Bibcode:2003JEI....12..219R. doi:10.1117/1.1557695.
  25. ^ Davies, Chris (2012-09-12). "Quantigraphic camera promises HDR eyesight from Father of AR". Slashgear.com. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
  26. ^ a b Mann, Steve; Janzen, Ryan; Post, Mark (2006). "Hydraulophone Design Considerations: Absement, Displacement, and Velocity-Sensitive Music Keyboard in which each key is a Water Jet". Proceedings of the 14th ACM international conference on Multimedia. MM'06. pp. 519–528. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/1180639.1180751. ISBN 978-1-59593-447-5. S2CID 14740177. QID 30473775. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
  27. ^ Memory Elements: A Paradigm Shift in Lagrangian Modeling of Electrical Circuits arXiv:1201.1032
  28. ^ "Integral Kinematics (Time‐Integrals of Distance, Energy, etc.) and Integral Kinesiology", by Steve Mann, Ryan Janzen, Mir Adnan Ali, Pete Scourboutakos, and Nitin Guleria, in Proceedings of the IEEE GEM2014, pp 627-629, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 22–24, 2014
  29. ^ Intelligent Image Processing, John Wiley and Sons, 2001
  30. ^ Mann, Steve (June 2014). "The Sightfield: Visualizing Computer Vision, and Seeing Its Capacity to "See" (Keynote Address)". IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops (CVPRW). IEEE: 618–623. Archived from the original on November 24, 2023.
  31. ^ "High-resolution stills and environment maps from video using the projective group of coordinate transformations". Wearcam.org.
  32. ^ "Video Orbits of the Projective Group". EyeTap. Archived from the original on 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
  33. ^ US 5828793  "Method and apparatus for producing digital images having extended dynamic ranges"
  34. ^ ""Virtual bellows: constructing high-quality images from video.", In Proceedings of the IEEE First International Conference on Image Processing". Eyetap.org. Austin, Texas. November 16, 1994. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  35. ^ "Committee of IEEE ISTAS – Social Implications of Living in a SmartWorld". Retrieved 2012-11-08.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ "About Us". Glogger.mobi. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  37. ^ Mann, S. (May–June 2001). "Wearable computing:toward humanistic intelligence" (PDF). Intelligent Systems. 16 (3): 10–15. CiteSeerX doi:10.1109/5254.940020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09.
  38. ^ Ito, Joi. "Joi Ito's Moblogging, Blogmapping and Moblogmapping related resources as of 6/10/2003". Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-08-03. February 1995 – wearcam.org as roving reporter Steve Mann (under 'about moblogging')
  39. ^ "wearcam.org as roving reporter; (c) Steve Mann, Feb. 1995". Retrieved 2007-08-03.
  40. ^ "Cyborg Law Course". Wearable Computing and Interaction Design. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  41. ^ "Co-investigators & collaborators". On the Identity Trail. Archived from the original on 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  42. ^ Schofield, Jack (2012-04-05). "Google Project Glass: will we really wear digital goggles?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-23. Steve Mann, a Canadian known as the father of wearable computing, has been developing systems since the 1980s with obvious industrial, medical and military applications.
  43. ^ Clarke, Peter (2000-02-08). "ISSCC: 'Dick Tracy' watch watchers disagree". EE Times. Archived from the original on 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2012-07-23. Steve Mann, a professor at the University of Toronto, was hailed as the father of the wearable computer and the ISSCC's first virtual panelist, by moderator...
  44. ^ Schofield, Jack (2001-08-01). "From man to borg – Is this the future?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-21.
  45. ^ "The Invention of the First Wearable Computer Online paper by Edward O. Thorp of Edward O. Thorp & Associates" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  46. ^ Ballingall, Alex (2013-02-13). "Google Glass, smart watches could help spawn wearable computer age". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2016-01-03. Garten also noted a remarkable similarity between the Google Glass and the eyewear technology developed by Steve Mann, a University of Toronto professor known as the "cyborg" for constantly wearing his version of the wearable computer glasses. He's often referred to as "the father" of the wearable computer and augmented reality vision.
  47. ^ Mann, Steve; Hal Niedzviecki (2001). Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer. Randomhouse Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-65826-3.
  48. ^ "Steve Mann for Mayor".
  49. ^ "SwimOP".
  50. ^ "Save the Beach".

External links[edit]