Sony files patent for vibrating 'SmartWig'
Sony has filed a patent for a "SmartWig" that would include ultrasound sensors, a camera and a laser pointer.
The device is not necessarily intended to replace absent hair, as with traditional wigs, but to be worn as a sort of mobile computer.
The patent describes a "plurality of natural and/or artificial hair pieces" which will hide within them a range of sensors and communication devices.
That artificial hair could be wool or horse hair, or just synthetic fibres, suggests Sony.
It goes on to explain that the device could be able to vibrate in order to provide tactile feedback, for instance giving directions while walking by sending a small buzz to the left side of the head or right side of the head.
Other features include an ultrasound sensor, so that the wig can detect nearby objects as a submarine does with sonar, and a camera and laser pointer. It could even be used to monitor your health via sensors which would detect your vital signs such as heart rate or blood pressure.
Sony says in the application: "The SmartWig integrates different types of computational functions within a wig, leading to a smart and intelligent type of wig that has so far not been known."
"The wearable computing device... has several advantages over state of the art wearable computing devices. First...a natural appearance is realized, thereby increasing the user comfort in a practical and also psychological aspect.
"The wearable computing device... therefore allows to produce surprising effects without being seen. Secondly, the proposed wearable computing device... allows for very sensitive sensing and sensitive user feedback, since it is integrated into a wig... that is adapted to be worn on the user's head, which is a much more sensitive area than e.g. the foot, the hand or waist of the user.
"Thirdly, the proposed wearable computing device... has the advantage that the user... can instantly change his/her appearance just by changing the type, shape and/or color of the wig."
Wearable technology is a growing area, with Google launching its Glass spectacles and Samsung incorporating some smartphone features into its Gear watch. But this is the first example of technology being incorporated into a "SmartWig".