South Korea designer invents device which serves as ‘Third Eye’ for distracted smartphone users

This Third Eye alerts users of incoming obstacles while they are scrolling through their phones.

Xynthea Ong

Expert pinterest scroller and bubble tea lover.

Published: 4 June 2021, 1:00 PM

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, that some might find it difficult to live without it. 

Most of the time, you might see people walking along the streets with eyes glued to their phones, occasionally bumping into each other or into random objects – easily becoming a dangerous habit for many.

Recognising this problem, Minwook Paeng, an industrial designer from South Korea studying  innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, came up with a device to help distracted walkers.  

Paeng created the unique robotic device, Third Eye, that is designed to help people keep a lookout for incoming obstacles.

The Third Eye is attached to the user’s forehead, similar to a headlamp. It has an in-built gyro sensor that detects when the user tilts their neck to open the “eye”. 

An ultrasonic sensor measures the distance between the user and any obstacles, which then triggers a buzzer when an obstacle is detected to alert the user. 

Although the device works well, it is still undergoing further development to accommodate real life situations. Paeng is now coming up with ways to alert users of obstacles using other methods apart from sound for people who tend to plug in with earphones while walking. 

The Third Eye, however, is not a commercial product. 

Paeng had initially built the Third Eye to fulfil the requirements for his degree. The satirical project was designed to encourage “phono sapiens” – or people overly reliant on their smartphones – to reflect on their use of technology. 

Paeng said: “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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