South Korean Designer Launches ‘Third Eye’ To Help ‘Smartphone Zombies’ Avoid Disaster

Reacting to so-called “smartphone zombies” who are apparently incapable of looking up from their phones while walking in order to avoid obstacles like walls, glass, or cars, an industrial designer in South Korea has the solution.

Paeng Min-wook calls it “The Third Eye,” a robotic eyeball which “obsessive mobile phone users can strap to their foreheads so they can browse injury-free on the go,” according to Reuters.

“The device opens its translucent eyelid whenever it senses the user’s head has been lowered to look at a smartphone. When the user comes within one to two meters of an obstacle, the device beeps to warn of the impending danger,” the outlet added.

“This is the look of future mankind with three eyes,” Paeng said as he demonstrated the use of “The Third Eye” around Seoul. “As we cannot take our eyes off from smartphones, the extra eye will be needed in future.”

“People from modern society find it difficult to live an ordinary life without smartphones. It means they belong to the environment that the smartphones created,” the 28-year-old told VICE.

Paeng is a postgraduate in innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. However, the Third Eye likely won’t appear on store shelves, as Paeng designed it to make a statement rather than to sell it, reports VICE. 

The Third Eye uses a gyro sensor to measure the angle of the user’s neck, while an ultrasonic sensor determines the existence of any approaching obstacles. Reuters added that both “sensors are linked to an open-source single-board microcontroller, with battery pack.”

“By presenting this satirical solution, I hope people would recognize the severity of their gadget addiction and look back at themselves,” Paeng said, describing the product as a warning, rather than a “real solution for smartphone addicts who won’t pay attention to where they are going.”

One Seoul resident, Lee Ok-jo, said, “I thought he looked like an alien with an eye on his forehead.”

“These days many young people can get into accidents while using their mobile phone. This would be good for them,” they added.

In an Instagram post explaining the invention, Paeng added the quote: “Phono Sapiens is a new human species born from Smartphones.”

“Smartphones have deeply permeated into modern people’s lives, which made it difficult for us to live without them. This is perceived negatively, but the evolution to Phono Sapiens of mankind is undeniably a reality,” Paeng continued. “So I accepted the fact that the human body is controlled by smartphones as a positive change. This gives us a broad perspective on the unfinished Phono sapiens. It also allows us to predict and propose fully evolved generation of Phono Sapiens.”

“The third eye is its first evolution. We can’t take our eyes off of our smartphones while walking. That’s why we evolved to have a third eye. This eye moves separately from the rest of the eyes and it opens when our previous eyes are looking at smartphone,” Paeng concluded. “This project is not just a common product design, but more of an ironic or critical design. Through ‘The Third Eye,’ I hope people can criticize our behaviors and rethink about ourselves evolving to Phono Sapiens than resolve the problems we encounter in the present.”

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