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Third eye
via Instagram (@minwookpaeng)

Is this ‘third eye’ the future for our smartphone-addicted selves?

A South Korean designer wants a generation of ‘smartphone zombies’ to rethink their behaviour with this wearable tech

If you’ve ever had an unfortunate collision with a lamppost while scrolling Instagram, industrial designer Minwook Paeng has the solution for you: a giant, robotic eyeball that you can strap to your head.

Paeng developed the ‘third eye’ device for a generation of ‘smartphone zombies’ to browse the internet on the go, injury-free. ”This is the look of future mankind with three eyes,” the 28-year-old postgraduate in innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, told Reuters.

The wearable eye uses sensors to measure the oblique angle of the user’s neck, and the distance between the eye and any obstacles. But it isn’t exactly the most fashionable accessory, looking like a cross between a headlamp and a webcam strapped to your forehead.

Demonstrating the device in Seoul, Paeng found that passersby weren’t so sure about the new technology’s look, but agreed there might be some benefit. ”I thought he looked like an alien with an eye on his forehead,” one resident, Lee Ok-jo, said. “These days many young people can get into accidents while using their mobile phone. This would be good for them.”

“It is so cool and interesting,” added 23-year-old Shin Jae-ik. “We can easily bump into each other on the street while using smartphones. I may not need it now, but I’d like to buy it when they sell it later.”

But Paeng said the ‘third eye’ was meant as a warning, an “ironic or critical design,” rather than a real invention. “By presenting this satirical solution, I hope people would recognise the severity of their gadget addiction and look back at themselves,” he said.