Walk down any street, and you’ll be greeted by the familiar sight of people checking out their phones while almost colliding with everyone around you. Navigating any avenue while staring at a phone requires a sixth sense, but industrial design student Minwook Paeng has a better solution for people who don’t have time to develop environmental awareness: a sensor device fittingly called Third Eye.
Paeng’s inspiration for the Third Eye’s creation according to Fast Company was for a satirical critique on just how deeply embedded smartphones have become in our day-to-day activities, with the device having a less than sleek appearance that sits on top of your forehead. It may be high-tech societal commentary, but it actually does work, as the eyelid will open when its sensors detect your head looking down and towards your phone.
Other sensors measure acceleration and distance from objects in your path, resulting in an alert sound being played to grab your attention before you bump into something or someone. Paeng’s critique calls people addicted to their devices to be “phono sapiens”, unable to function without the technology in everyday life, with the Third Eyeball designed to highlight the absurdity of it all.
The artist does have some solid numbers to back up the debate of whether people spend too much time transfixed to their smartphone screens, as American adults were recorded to have spent about 3.5 hours a day on their phones in 2019, or roughly nine years gazing at their screens over the course of an entire average lifetime.