Nov 28, 2013

    Sony may make high-tech wigs


    SONY, which popularised portable music players with the Walkman, is seeking a US patent for "SmartWig" hairpieces that could help navigate roads, check blood pressure or flip through slides in a presentation.

    The wig would communicate wirelessly with another device and include tactile feedback, Sony said in the filing with the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

    Depending on the model, the hairpiece may include a camera, laser pointer or global-positioning-system sensor, it said.

    The development of wearable technology such as eyeglasses, watches and earpieces is expanding as consumers seek new ways to integrate computers into everyday life.

    "It's an interesting idea but I think it would be very difficult for Sony to commercialise it," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management in Tokyo. "Who will want to use this wig will become a problem."

    In its patent application, Sony said: "It is an object to provide an improved wearable computing device.

    "At least one sensor, the processing unit and the communication interface are arranged in the wig and at least partly covered by the wig..."

    The wig could be made from "horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair or any kind of synthetic material", Sony said, adding that it has not yet decided whether to commercialise the technology.

    There are three prototypes, including the Presentation Wig that has a laser pointer and can change PowerPoint slides by pulling left and right on the device.

    The Navigation Wig uses a GPS and vibration to direct the user, while the Sensing Wig gathers information from inside the body, such as blood pressure and temperature.