Have Goggles, Will Travel

Steve Mann looks at the world a little strangely. He sees through two cameras that transmit images to a powerful computer workstation and then back to tiny monitors in a headset that covers his eyes. "I've become a cyborg," says Mann, a research assistant at MIT's Media Lab. "I tend to notice things a lot more, and I have a heightened sense of awareness." Possible applications for Mann's "visual filter" include so-called enhanced reality, in which the goggles, connected to a map database, could direct the wearer to the nearest subway station with arrows and instructions ("turn left") superimposed on the real world. But Mann's asking deeper questions, too. What's the difference between seeing with eyeballs and viewing with TVs? What's the difference between remembering and recording, if the data's portable and immediately accessible? To see exactly what Mann is saying, point your Web browser to http://www-white.media.mit.edu/steve.