Designer Creates 'Third Eye' to Help Smartphone 'Zombies' Walk Safely

Something satirically handy for today's 'phono sapiens.'
Fabienne Lang
The Third EyeMinwook Paeng

Ever walked on the sidewalk madly typing out an email only to painfully bump your foot on a lampost? Flashing embarrassment is probably your biggest worry, but you're also a danger, and a hassle, to people around you who have to swerve out of your way. 

We spend more and more time with our noses glued to our smartphones. It's easy to understand why, they now encompass our entire life: We can work from them, video call family and friends, organize our next night out, check our bank accounts, scroll through our music playlists, and so much more. 

So how do we solve the issue of stumped toes and bruised egos? A third eye keeping a lookout would be handy. 

Designer Creates 'Third Eye' to Help Smartphone 'Zombies' Walk Safely
Humans haven't yet developed a real third eye, so why not a fake one? Source: Minwook Paeng

Almost literally taking that concept and turning it into a third eyeball, industrial designer Minwook Paeng who is studying Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London created the satirical "Third Eye."

The translucent eyeball-shaped device sits on the smartphone "zombie's" — or the "smombie's" — forehead, and pings a notice to its user warning them of an upcoming obstacle, Paeng explained to Interesting Engineering.

Designer Creates 'Third Eye' to Help Smartphone 'Zombies' Walk Safely
Are we becoming "phono sapiens?" Source: Minwook Paeng

"Smombie" is a term that describes "smartphone zombies," people who walk around staring at their devices. Another great term for people who are addicted to their smartphones that Paeng explained to us is "phono sapiens." 

The contraption works by using an Arduino platform and a camera, explains Yanko Designs. A gyroscope helps the camera sense the smartphone user's head tilt, and as soon as the head faces downwards, the camera kicks into gear. The "Third Eye" glues lightly to the user's forehead through the use of thin gel pads.

When talking to us, Paeng explained that the motivation behind his design isn't to necessarily assist "smombies" to keep doing what they're doing — walking around totally unaware of their surroundings — but to highlight the fact that our world has become quite absurd.

"I do not want this to be a solution. However, if we continue to be addicted to smartphones like now, we will definitely need these products in the future. Not only this, I'm also planning to create other devices for phono sapiens that can be caused by smartphone addiction," he told us. 

Designer Creates 'Third Eye' to Help Smartphone 'Zombies' Walk Safely
An eye to see them all. Source: Minwook Paeng

Paeng is still tweaking the "Third Eye" device, as it's still in its developing and testing stages. But who knows, maybe our society of "phono sapiens" will one day walk around with a translucent third eye perched atop our forehead helping guide us around life's obstacles. 

It's certainly more attractive than having a creepy eye-shaped video camera follow you as you move across your room.