Fri, Nov 29, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Sony’s ‘smart’ wig navigates by GPS, monitors brainwaves

AFP, TOKYO

An undated combo illustration released yesterday by Japan’s Sony Computer Labolatory in Tokyo shows a wig-based wearable computing device that can read the wearer’s brainwaves and direct them to their destination with onboard GPS.

Photo: AFP

Are you both bald AND lost? Then the new “SmartWig” from Sony might be just what you need.

The techno-toupee, which can read the wearer’s brainwaves and direct them to their destination with onboard GPS, is the latest — and possibly the wackiest — addition to the world of wearable computing.

The company that brought world-changing hits like the Walkman and the pocket calculator, as well as instantly forgettable misses like the walking toaster, now offers a high-tech hairpiece.

The proof-of-concept invention comes in three varieties, each especially designed to make life that little bit easier for the follically challenged.

Wearers of the Presentation Wig will be able to remotely control a laser pointer from their mop-top. They can move forward through a PowerPoint slideshow by tugging the right sideburn and go back a page by pulling on the left.

The Navigation Wig uses GPS to speak to satellites and guide users to their destination with tiny vibrations on different parts of the head.

The Sensing Wig monitors body temperature, blood pressure and brainwaves, and can also record sounds and images to allow wearers to playback their day and see what set their systems aflutter.

“There is a wide variety of wearable computing devices, such as computational glasses, clothes, shoes, and so on... However, most wearable devices have become neither common nor popular,” the developers said in an essay issued last year.

“We think one of the biggest reasons is the style... the focus has been function, not style,” Hiroaki Tobita and Takuya Kuzi said.

“The goal of SmartWig is to achieve both natural and practical wearable devices,” they said, adding that the “natural appearance” of their invention — which can be made from human hair — could prove a selling point.

A spokeswoman for Sony yesterday said that patents for the SmartWig had been filed in the EU and the US, although there were currently no plans to commercialize the product.

Despite its phenomenal success with the much-aped Walkman, Sony has struggled in recent years in its mainstay electronics business and has been without a significant global hit.

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