The Eyecam is an eerie webcam that looks, and moves, like a real eye

In case you forgot, there’s an internet-connected digital camera taking a look at you proper now. Whether or not it’s in your cellphone or laptop computer, it’s looking at you, proper within the face. There’s actually a device that can broadcast you to the world, proper there, on a regular basis! However after all, its modern design melts the feeling away.

However may you ignore that digital camera if it have been, say, a disembodied human eye?

That’s the tacit query explored by Marc Teyssier, a postdoctoral researcher at Saarland College, in his newest venture, Eyecam. After constructing a cellphone that had pores and skin that may really feel, and one other that had a finger constructed to the touch you again, Teyssier’s ultimate venture in his “anthropomorphic sequence” locations a practical webcam inside a fleshy eye that sits on high of your pc. With built-in face-tracking intelligence, the eye doesn’t simply gaze blankly at you with a glass stare; it darts round to comply with your each transfer and often blinks. It appears alive.

At first sight, the fleshy eye is actually a bit revolting. Nonetheless, Teyssier’s intent isn’t that his creation be grotesque. It’s each an exploration of our relationship with expertise, and I’d argue, a critique of the very observe of constructing human-computer interfaces. In giving our expertise extra humanity, he’s pushing the boundaries of business design and UX to a pure conclusion: That slightly than shaping objects to suit our lives, we construct these objects into one thing extra akin to life itself. Put otherwise, if we’re touching our telephones all day anyway, why don’t they’ve pores and skin, nerves, and the entire organic intricacies to grasp us naturally?

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“The pores and skin, and flesh, is one thing we’re used to seeing in our on a regular basis life,” says Teyssier, “but when it’s on units, it feels uncanny.”

Creating the Eyecam was a very DIY course of. Teyssier 3D-printed a half-sphere to function the globe of the eye. He printed out a pupil for it and then lined the floor with shiny, clear nail polish to make it seem moist. The digital camera lens serves because the pupil itself. In the meantime, motor {hardware} hides beneath the flesh-like silicone pores and skin to maneuver the eye. All in all, the venture required 20 prototypes for Teyssier to get it proper.

[Photo: Courtesy of Eyecam]

It is perhaps exhausting to think about working a day underneath the gaze of the Eyecam. But as a part of his analysis, Teyssier did simply that for months. The expertise “positively modified my conduct in direction of webcam,” he says. “Now I’m a bit extra paranoid, and continuously wish to face it away from me!”

So what’s subsequent for his work? Teyssier teases that he’d like to deliver a few of these units to a public house, to see how individuals would react underneath real-world circumstances. (Which sounds like each a vigorous little bit of analysis and a extremely entertaining Netflix Unique.) However having completed his anthropomorphic trilogy, Teyssier is able to step away from the entire pores and skin.

“Now that I used units to critique the state of expertise and of our relation with units, I wish to use this information to create extra helpful and accountable tech,” he says.