Living in a Smart World – People as Sensors

Steve Mann


Download the ISTAS13_Poster

ISTAS’13 presenters and panellists addressed the implications of living in smartworlds – smart grids, smart infrastructure, smart homes, smart cars, smart fridges, and with the advent of body-worn sensors like cameras, smart people.


The environment around us is becoming “smarter”. Soon there will be a camera in nearly every streetlight enabling better occupancy sensing, while many appliances and everyday products such as automatic flush toilets, and faucets are starting to use more sophisticated camera-based computer-vision technologies.  Meanwhile, what happens when people increasingly wear these same sensors? 

A smart world where people wear sensors such as cameras, physiological sensors (e.g. monitoring temperature, physiological characteristics), location data loggers, tokens, and other wearable and embeddable systems presents many direct benefits, especially for personal applications. However, these same “Wearable Computing” technologies and applications have the potential to become mechanisms of control by smart infrastructure monitoring those individuals that wear these sensors.

“Smart people” interacting with smart infrastructure means that intelligence is driving decisions. In essence, technology becomes society.


There are great socio-ethical implications that will stem from these technologies and fresh regulatory and legislative approaches are required to deal with this new environment.

This event sought to explore outcomes related to:

  1. Consumer awareness
  2. Usability
  3. A defined industry cluster of new innovators
  4. Regulatory demands for a variety of jurisdictions
  5. User-centric engineering development ideas
  6. Augmented Reality design
  7. Creative computing
  8. Mobile learning applications
  9. Wearables as an assistive technology

Opening Keynote Address

Professor Mann University of Toronto spoke at the opening keynote panel with acclaimed Professor of MIT Media Arts and Sciences, Marvin Minsky​ who wrote the groundbreaking book The Society of Mind  and has helped define the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) among his major contributions.

General Chair of ISTAS13 and formerly a member of the MIT Media Lab under the guidance of Nicholas Negroponte in the 1990s Mann is long considered to be the Father of Wearable Computing and AR in this young field.

View introductory video by Professor Steve Mann.


ISTAS13 was held on the 27th, 28th and 29th June 2013.


ISTAS13 was held in Toronto, Canada at the University of Toronto (UoT).​

Media Releases

Click on the following hyperlinks to access media releases from the core Patrons of this event:


ISTAS13 Short Media Statement

University of Toronto Media Release

ISTAS13 UOW Press Release


The IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) is an annual international forum sponsored by the IEEE Society on the Social Implications of Technology (SSIT). ISTAS13 is the annual symposium of the IEEE Society on the Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) which dates back to 1989.


The ISTAS13 event was a powerful lineup of leaders from various fields of research coming together in a transdisciplinary manner. This symposium  prepared consumers for better understanding innovation in human computing and IT wearables, social implications and likely impacts on users of the technology.


ISTAS ’13 was a transdisciplinary event for engineers, designers, scientists, artists, researchers in the social sciences, law and humanities, decision makers, entrepreneurs, inventors, commercializers, etc. You are likely to connect with designers, artists, sustainists, scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians (DASSTEMist).