South Korean designer creates “Third Eye” for “smartphone zombies”
A South Korean industrial designer has come up with a satirical solution for “smartphone zombies” who can’t take their eyes off their screens long enough to keep from stepping against a wall or other obstacle.
Paeng Min-wook, 28, developed a robotic eyeball he dubbed “The Third Eye,” which obsessive cell phone users can clip to their foreheads so they can navigate without injuring themselves on the move.
The device, which is part of a work of art Paeng called “Phono Sapiens,” opens its translucent eyelid whenever it feels the user’s head has been lowered to look at a smartphone. When the user approaches an obstacle one to two meters, the device beeps to warn them of imminent danger.
“This is the look of future humanity with three eyes,” Paeng, a graduate in innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, told Reuters, as he demonstrated the use of the third eye around Seoul.
“Since we can’t take our eyes off smartphones, the extra eye will be needed in the future.”
Paeng’s 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 obstacle. The two sensors are connected to an open source single board microcontroller, with battery.
Paeng’s demonstration of the device in Seoul this week caught the attention of passers-by.
“I thought he looked like an alien with one eye on his forehead,” said Lee Ok-jo, a Seoul resident. “Nowadays, many young people can have accidents while using their cell phones. It would be a good thing for them.
Paeng plans to develop a third eye camera module and associated mobile phone application, but he does not plan to commercialize his invention – a position he may consider changing given the potential demand.
“It’s so cool and interesting,” Shin Jae-ik, 23, said. “We can easily pass each other on the street using smartphones. I might not need it now, but I would like to buy it when they sell it later.”
(This story corrects a typo in paragraph 7 in “Seoul”.)
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