A South Korean industrial designer has devised a satirical solution for “smartphone zombies” who can’t take their eyes off their screen long enough to avoid walking into a wall or other obstacle.
Paeng Min-wook, 28, has created “The Third Eye,” a robotic eyeball that obsessive mobile phone users can strap to their foreheads to browse safely while on the go. Paeng said he hoped would make people “recognize the severity of their gadget addiction and look back at themselves”.
Whenever the device detects that the user’s head has been lowered to look at a smartphone, it opens its translucent eyelid. When the user approaches an obstacle within 1 to 2 meters, the device beeps to warn of the impending danger.
“This is the look of future mankind with three eyes,” said Paeng, a postgraduate in innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London as he demonstrated the use of The Third Eye around Seoul.
The invention uses a gyro sensor to measure the oblique angle of the user’s neck and an ultrasonic sensor to calculate the distance between the robotic eye and any obstacles. Both sensors are linked to an open-source single-board microcontroller with a battery pack.
“I thought he looked like an alien with an eye on his forehead,” Seoul resident Lee Ok-jo said. “These days many young people can get into accidents while using their mobile phone. This would be good for them.”
According to Paeng, the Third Eye was intended as a warning rather than a real solution for smartphone addicts who don’t pay attention to where they’re going.