This Weirdly Lifelike Human Eye Could Replace Your Webcam during Video Calls

This anthropomorphic webcam could be what you would expect one day if a coworker shakes your office spontaneously (Gar la Gareth Marenghi’s dark space) and one day slams off the ceiling and slaps on your computer screen. Although impressive in its movement and life on the ground, the boundaries of “flesh” are actually a resolute piece of robotics that can sway, see all directions and even follow you around the house.

Just missing your morning video call meetings, Entitled Eyecam, this miraculous piece of technology created Mark Teyssier and his team at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Saarland in Germany. “I have a history of creating fictional technology that spreads discussion and speculation,” Teyssier told IFLScience.

“I’ve worked on artificial human skin for smartphones and desktops before, [and] a finger for smartphones that was somehow controversial – and I’m glad to read the discussion.” A quick peek at Teyssier’s oeuvre makes it easy to understand why your team’s innovative technologies have sparked so much colorful controversy. The world is not fully prepared for the “slab-and-skin” phone case or any device that can hold you while you hold it.

The team’s latest output, Eyecam, will debut at the 2021 ACM CII Conference on Humanities of Computer Systems. The design based on the real eye cast of Teyssier and luckily, for fans of fleshy robots, the study is open access so you can find all the information you need to create your own. Far from an unnecessary trip to an unhealthy valley, Eyecam’s purpose was to serve as an effective (albeit not terribly scary) reminder that most of us, even after spending our lives in front of such cameras, just barely notice them.

Teyssier hopes that robotic Cyclops will inspire conversations about our perceived privacy in the age of surveillance technology, replacing passive devices with emoticons that make it extremely clear when they are watching you. “Webcams are constantly looking at us in front of us,” Teyssier told IFLScience. “A webcam and a human eye share a purpose: they ‘see.’ They may show fatigue, they may look curious, confused or focused.