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Sony files patent for a “SmartWig” – What the heck is it, anyway?

Those who are intrigued by the concept of “wearable technology” might want to hold onto their hats (pun intended) because Sony has recently unveiled a new class of products which have been deemed “SmartWigs”.  While it might seem humorous to some, a Japanese firm filed a US patent in May which seeks to turn the tech world on its head – in this case, technologically advanced hairpieces which blur the line between fashion and usable devices.

The “SmartWig”, as it’s been dubbed, isn’t just a plaything though, the company responsible for the filing claims that its unique design will be able to improve user comfort as well as handling in general.  Such concepts aren’t without precedent of course, many large businesses have been actively engaged in bolstering what they see as an emerging tech sector – wearable computing devices.  As far as the wig is concerned, there are apparently big plans to bring it to global markets.

So, what’s inside the device, you might be wondering?  At present, there are three wig prototypes which are serving as the basis for development.  One of them is focused on presentation – allowing the wearer to do things like manage a powerpoint presentation via gestures.  The second is a GPS-enabled hairpiece which might actually steer a person using vibration-based cues.  Lastly, there’s a wig devoted to sensing and gathering biometric data from the wearer (i.e. – heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, etc.)

SmartWigs

As with any other type of commercially available wig, the rather “hairy” devices will be constructed utilizing conventionally available materials too, such as regular human hair, synthetics, wool, feathers, or even horse / yak manes.  Each proposed unit is going to contain a number of sensors which will collect data and transmit wirelessly as well, which opens up some interesting possibilities, especially if they’re going to be able to connect with other off-the-shelf devices (such as tablets and smartphones).

Whether or not such devices will in fact become widely popular is anyone’s guess, of course.  However, one can easily see such intriguing products completely revolutionizing the way people approach technology, should it become popular.  For instance, imagine having what amounts to a sophisticated smartphone imbedded on your person at all times, perhaps even linking up with other “smart” articles of clothing.  Should Sony’s fashionable venture take hold of the public’s imagination, who knows what might happen?

Of course the “SmartWig” isn’t anywhere near production-level status yet.  Researchers are still in the design and development phase right now, but they are optimistic and plan on applying the tech to numerous sectors.  For example, there are exciting implications with regards to healthcare and preventative medicine, perhaps allowing institutions and individuals to mitigate future ailments.  Whatever they end doing with the technology, let’s just hope these intelligent accessories work properly and won’t have people pulling their hair out in frustration.

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