Media Releases

Wearable computing and augmented reality conference comes to U of T in June

February 6, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Inter­net-con­nect­ed eye­glass­es and sim­i­lar tech­nolo­gies will soon be on the mar­ket, but their ben­e­fits and dan­gers are lit­tle under­stood. Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Engi­neer­ing Pro­fes­sor Steve Mann hopes to change that at a ground­break­ing con­fer­ence at U of T in June 2013.

Mann is a pio­neer­ing researcher in the fields of wear­able com­put­ing and ‘aug­me­di­at­ed real­i­ty’ (AR). He’s bring­ing togeth­er renowned experts in wear­able tech­nol­o­gy, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, vir­tu­al real­i­ty and pri­va­cy to dis­cuss both the poten­tial and the pit­falls of these tech­nolo­gies. Speak­ers will include renowned arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence researcher Mar­vin Min­sky, futur­ist and inven­tor Ray Kurzweil, leg­endary com­put­er sci­en­tist Gor­don Bell, pri­va­cy expert Helen Nis­senbaum and Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union pres­i­dent Susan N. Her­man.

The con­fer­ence, the annu­al Insti­tute of Elec­tri­cal and Elec­tron­ics Engi­neers Inter­na­tion­al Sym­po­sium on Tech­nol­o­gy and Soci­ety (ISTAS), is called ‘The Social Impli­ca­tions of Wear­able Com­put­ing and Aug­me­di­at­ed Real­i­ty in Every­day Life.’ It will be held at U of T Engineering’s Bahen Cen­tre for Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy, June 27–29, 2013.

Papers on top­ics such as sur­veil­lance and sousveil­lance in soci­ety, human­is­tic intel­li­gence, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, aug­me­di­at­ed real­i­ty, geolo­ca­tion map­ping, Web 3.0, biofeed­back, pri­va­cy, secu­ri­ty, as well as legal, moral and eth­i­cal issues will be accept­ed through the con­fer­ence web­site until Feb­ru­ary 28, 2013, Pro­fes­sor Mann, the gen­er­al chair of the con­fer­ence, said.

Known as the ‘father of wear­able com­put­ing,’ Mann has been invent­ing, design­ing, build­ing and wear­ing com­put­er vision sys­tems for more than 35 years, and has also writ­ten exten­sive­ly on the legal, social and eth­i­cal impli­ca­tions of such tech­nol­o­gy. Among his inven­tions is the Eye­Tap, which he described as a device which allows the eye itself to func­tion as both a dis­play and a cam­era. “Eye­Tap is at once the eye piece that dis­plays com­put­er infor­ma­tion to the user and a device which allows the com­put­er to process and pos­si­bly alter what the user sees.”

“The envi­ron­ment around us is becom­ing ‘smarter,’ said Mann. “Soon, there will be a cam­era in near­ly every street­light to do bet­ter occu­pan­cy sens­ing, and ulti­mate­ly a cam­era in every light fix­ture. Many appli­ances and every­day prod­ucts, such as auto­mat­ic flush toi­lets, faucets and sen­sor-oper­at­ed show­ers, are start­ing to use more sophis­ti­cat­ed cam­era-based, com­put­er-vision tech­nolo­gies,” he added.

Wear­able tech­nol­o­gy and AR are not some­thing from sci­ence fic­tion or the dis­tant future. They need to be dis­cussed today, Mann con­tend­ed. He not­ed that Google has already beta-test­ed inter­net-con­nect­ed glass­es sim­i­lar to the Eye­Tap.

“Soon your built-in, 3‑D cam­era in your eye­glass­es will be able to dis­play onto your reti­na the names of peo­ple it rec­og­nizes, and then let you see through walls and build­ings to show you your friends sit­ting in a near­by restau­rant. Then it reads your brain­waves, and if it sens­es you want to join them, it guides you to them.”

“In a world of smart things like smart lights, smart toi­lets, smart grids, smart meters, smart roads, and the like, what hap­pens when you have ‘smart peo­ple,’ – when you put sen­sors on peo­ple? What do we make of the grow­ing num­bers of busi­ness­es like depart­ment stores and restau­rants that pro­hib­it cam­eras, yet dis­play QR codes that require cam­eras to read and under­stand? These are some of the things we’ll dis­cuss at ISTAS. We’re very excit­ed and proud to host this con­fer­ence.”

For more infor­ma­tion about the con­fer­ence, go to


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Ter­ry Laven­der
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions & Media Rela­tions Strate­gist
acul­ty of Applied Sci­ence & Engi­neer­ing, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–978-4498

Note: high res­o­lu­tion images are avail­able at