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It looks like tech may be outpacing us again. A researcher at Pontifical Catholic University has found a way to jump from wearable technology (like smartwatches) to wearable hair – or hairware.

What is Hairware?

Hairware is a type of connected device built into hair extensions. The researcher who designed them, Katia Vega, created them as a sort of security system for women. Females often use their hair as an auto-contact behavior, for example, running their hands through their hair if they feel uncomfortable. Vega decided to use those instinctual motions as a way to transmit distress signals to a friend or family via a smartphone.
The device works by using chemically metalized hair extensions that connect to a microcontroller. The microcontroller can trigger different objects by detecting variations of touch on the extensions. A machine learning algorithm decodes the touch variations and triggers a response, such as taking a picture or sending a warning alert. They’re currently working on adding additional gesture responses, though they initially started with just five.

What’s the Future of Hairware?

While it’s hard to say whether hairware will become the norm and another way for people to transmit data and information to others, it is an interesting idea. And it’s also not one that hasn’t been ignored by larger tech players. Sony made news last year after submitting a patent for a “SmartWig” that transmitted data, although they didn’t specify exactly what the use for that type of device would be used for.
As for Vega’s Hairware, she’s busy designing and creating a prototype for men, which would be worn in their beard.


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