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With further research, the wearable, tetherless, computer-mediated reality apparatus (WearCam) will hopefully be of assistance to the visually handicapped, as well as those suffering from a memory disability. These two applications were presented in the form of a personal visual assistant (spatial visual filter) and a visual memory prosthetic (temporal visual filter). The former reconfigures vision through a completely mediated reality, while the latter reconfigures reality through a partially mediated reality.

Because WearCam is tetherless, it has been possible to wear the apparatus over an extended period of time, in day-to-day interactions. Getting it out of the lab and onto the street has raised some interesting privacy issues.

WearCam offers an alternative to Big--Brother type video surveillance. It suggests a future in which people, through prosthesis, might have both improved visual memory and improved ability to share it. But it also suggests a hope that the visual memory be distributed among us, and be less likely to be abused than if it exist in a centralized form, as is more common with a network of surveillance cameras, such as is commonly used on the streets in the UK. The proliferation of hidden cameras everywhere has the possibility to threaten our privacy, but suppose the only cameras were the prosthetic elements of other individuals. Then at least one would still have privacy when one was alone.

Steve Mann
Wed Feb 14 01:19:59 EST 1996