Sony files hair-raising patent for 'SmartWig'

27/11/2013

Sony has filed a patent for a SmartWig that can can help wearers navigate roads, collect information such as blood pressure and even vibrates on the user’s head to give them messages.

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The Japanese electronics giant said the wig could also include special fibres that move, changing its shape but claim it looks natural

It has been used by employees who gave presentations wearing it and switched slides by tapping their sideburns

The SmartWig can be worn "in addition to natural hair", and will be able to process data and communicate wirelessly with other external devices.

Google and Samsung are among the firms that have launched products in wearable technology - seen as a key growth area.

The Japanese firm said the wig could be made from horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair or any kind of synthetic material.

At the same time, the communication interface and sensors placed in the wig are at least partly covered by parts of the wig in order to be hidden from sight during use.

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It said that as a result, the device has the potential to become "very popular" as it could be used as a "technically intelligent item and fashion item at the same time".

"The usage of a wig has several advantages that, compared to known wearable computing devices, include a significantly increased user comfort and an improved handling of the wearable computing device."

Sony listed various potential uses of the SmartWig in its filing, including helping blind people navigate roads.

It said that a small video camera or a sensor on the wig could help to provide the position and the location of the wearer.

A remote user can then use the images provided and send vibration commands through the network and navigate the wig user manually to a desired destination.

"Although navigation systems based on vibration motors have been widely introduced, a navigation system integrated into a wig... is so far not known," the firm said.

A further potential improvement of the wig may use ultrasound waves to detect objects around a user.

Sony said the gaming industry or "any type of virtual reality appliance" could also be an "interesting field" of use for the device, though it did not provide any details.

It could also have uses in the healthcare sector, as a combination of sensors can help collect information such as temperature, pulse and blood pressure of the wearer.

"The system can detect these kinds of data naturally and transmit them to the server computer," it said.

The device can also be used during presentations where a wearer can "move to the next presentation slide or back to the preceding presentation slide by simply raising his/her eyebrows".

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