Anyone holding a smartphone could use an extra eye to help keep them alive as they screen-blindedly go about their daily business. So postgraduate student Paeng Min-wook from South Korea has stepped up to the plate. Studying innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, the 28-year-old, with tongue partly in cheek, has created the "Third Eye," a beeping strap-on contraption that watches where you're going so you don't have to.
The device, part of an artwork Paeng has called "Phono Sapiens", 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 metres of an obstacle, the device beeps to warn of the impending danger.
Paeng's invention uses a gyro sensor to measure the oblique angle of the user's neck and an ultrasonic sensor to calculate the distance between the robotic eye and any obstacles. Both sensors are linked to an open-source single-board microcontroller, with battery pack.
Paeng's demonstration of the device in Seoul this week garnered attention from passersby.
Paeng plans to develop a camera module for the Third Eye and a linked mobile phone application, but he has no plans to commercialise his invention – a stance that he might consider changing given potential demand.