First, there was the smartphone then the smartglass and smartwatch. Now, Sony is developing a smartwig that could help the wearer navigate roads, monitor blood pressure or flip through slides in a presentation.
Sony had filed a patent for the smartwig with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the device that would communicate wirelessly with another gadget. It aims to further integrate computers into daily living in different forms other than PCs and tablets.
The planned hairpiece could also have a camera, laser pointer or global positioning system sensor, depending on the model - or would it be based on the hairstyle? Would a pompadour be a perfect spot to hide a camera? Or is it better hidden in a beehive hair similar to Marge Simpson of the TV show The Simpsons?
The race to have more wearable devices available aims to facilitate living and fill in the needs of a market estimated to balloon to $19 billion in the next five years. Besides Sony, which introduced the Walkman to the world, other tech firms developing their own version of wearable technology are Google and Samsung.
Sony, in its patent application, said that the smartwig aims to provide an improved wearable computing device containing at least one sensor, a processing unit and communication interface that will be arranger in the hairpiece, but also covered by the hair so that usage is hidden.
However, Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management, believes it would be very difficult for Sony to sell the smartwig on the commercial market, doubting anyone would want to wear a smartwig.
The wig, which could be made of horse, human, sheep, yak or buffalo hair, or even synthetic materials, was invented by Hiroaki Tobita, an employee of Sony Computer Science Laboratories. Sony applied for a patent on May 10.
Sony has made three prototypes. The Presentation Wig features a laser point and could change PowerPoint slides by the mere tug toward the left or right of the wig. The Navigation Wig has a GPS and it guides a wearer with the help of vibration.
Lastly, the Sensing Wig is for to gather information about the body such as temperature and blood pressure.