Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

'SmartWig': Sony files patent for computerised hair piece

Sony has filed a patent for a “SmartWig” device: a false hair piece complete with sensors for “providing data input” and capable of communicating with smartphones and computers.

Sony suggests that the SmartWig could fulfil a number of functions, from acting as a health care device that monitors users’ vital signs (including blood pressure, temperature and heart-rate) to acting as a “navigation wig” to assist the blind in finding their way around.

This latter implementation would include an onboard GPS system that would be used to locate the wearer whilst built-in “vibration motors” could provide feedback; notifying the user of the direction they need to take or when they arrive at their destination.

For corporate buyers Sony suggests that the device could be used to control presentations in the boardroom, with wearers able to "move to the next presentation slide or back to the preceding presentation slide by simply raising his/her eyebrows".

Compared to other wearable devices Sony claim that the wig format would offer “significantly increased user comfort” and “improved handling of the wearable computing device”. They suggest that the SmartWig could be made out of a number of materials including “horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair or any kind of synthetic material”.

“The wig itself may have a fancy or funny appearance, but may also have an inconspicuous appearance so that other people in the surroundings of the user may not even take notice of the wearable computing device.”

Locating wearable devices on the head (as opposed to, they suggest, the foot, hand or waist) is that our fondness for our heads means that users would “instinctively protect their heads more than other body parts”, so more sensitive components could be used without fear of damaging them.

Sony is not the only company to jump onboard the bandwagon for fantastical wearable devices - Motorola recently filed a patent for an ‘electronic throat tattoo’ that could replace the smartphone, whilst students at MIT recently created a ‘thermoelectric wristband’ to cool or heat users.

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