Editorial Feature

Fashionable Sensor Based Wig for Road Navigation

Image Credits: Thinkstock

With the fashion and technology industries becoming ever more entwined, some technology giants are looking to use fashion to not only give a visual statement, but also to help improve our lives and the lives of those around us. Recent examples include the ‘Up’ from Jawbone, Google Glass and now, Sony’s SmartWig.

This article looks at how Sony’s SmartWig can bring significant benefits to its potential users.  

After the successful launch of SmartWatch 2 early this year, Sony Corporation has recently filed a patent for a Smart Wig that monitors blood pressure, detects surrounding objects and helps navigate roads.

A spokesperson said that the company has not yet decided whether to commercialize the technology. However, the company hopes that this headwear worn over the natural hair could be popularized as a technically intelligent and fashionable device in the future.

The SmartWig would wirelessly communicate with another device and relay tactile feedback. Depending on the model, Sony say the wig may include a camera, laser pointer and/or a global positioning system sensor.

The wigs could be made of buffalo hair, yak hair, feathers, wool, human hair, horse hair or any kind of synthetic materials. The sensors and communication interface are embedded within the wigs such that they are at least partly covered ensuring they are hidden from sight while in use.

The SmartWig was invented by Hiroaki Tobita, who works for Sony Computer Science Laboratories.

Currently, Sony have three prototypes including:

  • Sensing Wig that monitors the health conditions of the user’s body.
  • Navigation Wig that features vibration component and GPS to guide the user.
  • Presentation Wig that employs a laser point.

Significance of Hair Wig Sensors

According to reports, the video camera or sensor on the wig could provide information on the location and position of the wearer. This enables a remote user to transmit vibration commands via a network based on the images provided by the sensor thereby manually navigating the wig user to a desired place. Sony believes this technology shows particular promise helping blind or partially sighted people navigate roads and walkways.

Reports also state that SmartWigs have potential applications in the healthcare industry, reporting blood pressure, pulse readings and monitoring body temperature. This information is obtained from the wearer using a combination of sensors and is then transmitted to a server computer.

These devices can also be used to change the slides in a presentation by simply moving your eyebrows. When compared with existing wearable computing devices, SmartWigs provide enhanced handling and user comfort.

Sony has also expressed interest in developing this device for the games industry or any virtual reality application.

Conclusion

The development of wearable sensing devices such as earpieces, watches and eye-glasses is a rapidly growing market with more and more people looking for new methods to integrate computers and sensors into everyday life. Although sensing and navigation systems based on vibration motors have been widely employed, a sensing system integrated into a wig is a novel approach.

Researchers also stated that further research will focus on improving the performance of the wig by utilizing ultrasonic waves to locate surrounding objects.

Sources and Further Reading

Stuart Milne

Written by

Stuart Milne

Stuart graduated from the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff with a first-class honours degree in Industrial Product Design. After working on a start-up company involved in LED Lighting solutions, Stuart decided to take an opportunity with AZoNetwork. Over the past five years at AZoNetwork, Stuart has been involved in developing an industry leading range of products, enhancing client experience and improving internal systems designed to deliver significant value for clients hard earned marketing dollars. In his spare time Stuart likes to continue his love for art and design by creating art work and continuing his love for sketching. In the future Stuart, would like to continue his love for travel and explore new and exciting places.

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