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Latest in headgear allows MIT student to send images to Web site

Steve Mann

April 8, 1996
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EDT

From CNN Correspondent Dick Wilson

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- A begoggled Steve Mann roams MIT's campus sporting a wiry contraption on his head. He looks like Robocop gone to college. (1M QuickTime movie)

Mann, however, is much more than that. He's a 32-year-old Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology media lab. And through his odd-looking gear, which includes a portable computer and a visor decked with a computer screen and digitalized camera, Mann can send live pictures of what he's doing to his Web site. Or he can watch the world on the tiny computer screen rigged up through his visor.

Mann says he's trying to wire up his life and show it to the world on the Internet.


And what started as a hobby in high school has become a major part of his everyday life. Practically all the time, he walks around with a complete lab, office, multi-media system and amateur television station attached to his body, as he puts it. (136K AIFF sound or 136K WAV sound)

At some point, Mann plans to make his mobile multi-media lab much smaller, so that it fits in an eyeglass frame that is impervious to bad weather and will not hinder his vision at all. "I should be able to play a competitive game of volleyball," he says.

But Mann has much loftier ambitions than a volleyball spike -- he hopes to help those who are visually impaired see better.

Face close-up

"I'm trying to experiment with the future, some future ideas of being able to see better, to remember, create and communicate," Mann explains.

"Imagine somebody with a blind spot in the middle of the page," he adds. "The hope is this would mitigate that effect by remaking the visual field."

Possibly, the one thing Mann has yet to figure out is what he will do after MIT.

"Being a professor would be fun because then I wouldn't have to, you know, get a job out in the real world," Mann says.

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