Author Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953 and in that book he described the main character’s wife as addicted to a seashell thimble-radio that offers her information and entertainment at all times, causing her to be completely disconnected from the real world.
Bradbury stated in an article that, at the time of writing the book, he imagined how the world might look in four or five decades. And his predictions were not too far removed from what is currently happening in the present.
Nowadays, many people walk down the street looking at their smartphones, completely ignoring their surroundings.
In South Korea, this phenomenon has reached even greater heights and is so widespread that traffic lights have been installed on the ground so pedestrians can cross the street safely while still keeping their eyes glued to the screen.
The people who behave in this way have been dubbed ‘Smombies’, a term that pairs up the words smartphone and zombie, mostly used in a pejorative way.
To keep the Smombies safe, a South Korean designer called Paeng Min-Wook has created a robotic ‘third eye’ that mobile phone users who simply can’t keep their own eyes away from their screen, can use to keep themselves out of danger.
The device is about the size of a tennis ball that can be strapped to the user’s head and it’s not hard to think of old science fiction films when looking at it.
The eye will open its eyelid when it senses that the user has lowered their head in the typical posture people get into when looking at their smartphones.
If the eye notices an obstacle, it will beep in warning at about two meters’ distance.
The device is powered by Arduino and is equipped with a gyroscopic sensor that can perceive and measure the angle of inclination of the wearer’s head. A second sensor is used to distinguish objects on the road and identify obstacles.
Both these sensors link to an open-source microcontroller that has a battery pack.
Paeng, an industrial design student at Imperial College London, England, is convinced that this is what the future will look like: a world of people completely out of touch with what is happening around them.
“This is the look of future mankind with three eyes,” he said “As we cannot take our eyes off from smartphones, the extra eye will be needed in future.”
However, the creation of the eye was only meant as something of a wake-up call and not an actual solution for smartphone addiction.
“By presenting this satirical solution, I hope people would recognise the severity of their gadget addiction and look back at themselves,” Peng said.