Earlier this week we reported on the alleged physical assault of wearables pioneer Steve Mann at a McDonald's in Paris. Writing in his blog, Mann claimed that restaurant employees damaged his Digital Eye Glass device and physically removed him from the restaurant — an apparent case of cyber-discrimination. But the McDonald's staff are now claiming that the altercation never happened.
Writing in Forbes, Andy Greenberg relays a statement he received from a McDonald's spokesperson after he requested an explanation:
We share the concern regarding Dr. Mann's account of his July 1 visit to a McDonald's in Paris. McDonald's France was made aware of Dr. Mann's complaints on July 16, and immediately launched a thorough investigation. The McDonald's France team has contacted Dr. Mann and is awaiting further information from him.
In addition, several staff members involved have been interviewed individually, and all independently and consistently expressed that their interaction with Dr. Mann was polite and did not involve a physical altercation. Our crew members and restaurant security staff have informed us that they did not damage any of Mr. Mann's personal possessions.
While we continue to learn more about the situation, we are hearing from customers who have questions about what happened. We urge everyone not to speculate or jump to conclusions before all the facts are known. Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment and stellar service to McDonald's customers around the world.
The spokesperson later confirmed that Mann was in fact asked to leave the restaurant, but couldn't point to any policy against recording or wearing a computer eyepiece, and that "It's up to each restaurant's discretion to establish its rules."
This obviously runs in direct opposition to Mann's description of the incident. And in a new photo released by Mann (above), it seems clear that a McDonald's employee reached out to try and remove the device from his head. Mann re-affirmed his position in a recent interview with Fox News:
Mann, told us that, on July 1st, he, his wife and their two children were in line to purchase food at the Paris McDonald's when an employee approached and informed them that cameras were not allowed in the establishment. After Mann presented the employee with a doctor's note he carries with him that states he needs to wear his headgear, the employee let him through and a cashier took his order.
According to Mann, after he and his family had received their food and taken a seat by the entrance, another McDonald's employee, whom Mann refers to as Perpetrator 1, approached and angrily tried to pull the EyeTap, which is permanently attached and cannot be removed without tools, off of his head.
"Perp. 1 reached his left hand out and pressed against the frame of my eyeglass, and swung his left hand around a few times pushing and pulling at it," he told us.
Mann then tried to calm Perpetrator 1 and showed him his doctor's note, which the employee showed to two coworkers, whom Mann nicknames Perpetrators 2 and 3. After Perpetrator 2 crumpled up his doctor's note and Perpetrator 1 tore up some other documentation he provided, Perpetrator 1 then allegedly pushed him out the door and onto the street, damaging his gear.
Mann claims that a ribbon cable became loose inside the device, causing the eye piece to malfunction and flood his eye with laser light. And the alleged assault was serious enough that, according to Mann, it caused him to have a rather unfortunate accident.
"The actual cause of the final stoppage (which happened shortly after he pushed me out the door) is a bit embarrassing as what happened also is that I had had to really use the toilet, at the time, and it was that I'd been going toward using the toilet but got attacked, so as a result, later, it turned out that my pants became the toilet," he told Fox News.
McDonald's claims that they are still investigating the incident.
Perhaps the company should take the advice of George Anders, who suggests they release their own surveillance video of the alleged assault. Or is that uncomfortably obvious?