Unexpectedly Intriguing!
19 August 2016

Wearable computing technology has a bad track record. Inventions like Google Glass is considered to be an epic fail by some. Meanwhile, Apple Watch has been somewhat more successful, but is still considered to be an application of technology that still isn't ready for prime time.

That's why we were intrigued to see Sony enter the field with U.S. Patent 9,417,106 earlier this week with what must be the future of success in wearable computing technology, in which all the technology is integrated into a wig!

U.S. Patent 9,417,2016 Figure 1

If Sony is right, what once was the height of fashion in the 17th and 18th centuries could rock the fashion world of the 21st century!

Sony's inventor team describes the advantages that might be realized by integrating input and output computing devices into today's toupees (emphasis ours):

One of the aspects of the present disclosure is the usage of a wig and the integration of the components of the computing device into this wig. The usage of a wig has several advantages that, compared to known wearable computing devices, include a significantly increased user comfort and an improved handling of the wearable computing device. As the at least one sensor, the control unit and the communication interface are arranged in the wig, most of the components or all components of the wearable computing device are covered by the wig and are, thus, not visible. Therefore, the user can wear the wearable computing device as a regular wig while looking natural at the same time. Secondly, a wig covers at least a part of the user's head or the entire head of the user, so that there is enough space to place the components of the computing device, i.e. the at least one sensor, the control unit and the communication interface, without limiting the user in his daily life activities. The components of the computing device, i.e. the at least one sensor, the control unit and the communication interface, are preferably arranged within the wig in order to be placed on a peripheral area of the head when the wig is worn by the user. The wearable computing device can thus detect a wide variety of information.

A further advantage relies on the fact that the head area is more sensitive than other body parts, such as a foot, a hand or the waist of the user, where the wearable computing devices known from the prior art are usually arranged. The arrangement within a wig that is adapted to cover at least a part of the user's head enables the user to immediately react even if the computing device provides only small or weak feedbacks. The fact that users instinctively protect their heads more than other body parts is also advantageous, since more sensitive sensors and other computing components may be used without the risk of getting damaged. Moreover, the wearable computing device according to the present disclosure can be easily combined with other wearable devices, such as computer glasses or smart phones.

Finally, an integration of a computing device into a wig as proposed according to the present disclosure enables a usage in many daily life situations. The wig itself may have a fancy or funny appearance, but may also have an inconspicuous appearance so that other people in the surrounding of the user may not even take notice of the wearable computing device. In contrast to wearable computing devices known from the art, the wearable computing device proposed in this disclosure thus has the potential to become very popular and commonly used. The proposed device could even be used as a kind of combined technically intelligent item and fashion item at the same time.

Wigs are useful to enhance a user's appearance and change other's impressions because different hairstyles give different impressions. Thus, many people use wigs. Especially bald people that usually wear wigs in their daily life could take advantage of the wide variety of functions that are provided by the wearable computing device proposed herein. However, other conceivable appliances are film or playing actors that commonly use wigs to play different roles. Also, many so-called "cosplayers" (costume players: a form of role-play) wear wigs and costumes to imitate their favourite characters in comics and animated films. In all cases, users wear wigs to enhance their appearance. However, it is to be noted that the wearable computing device proposed herein may be worn by any people, even by people who usually do not wear wigs.

The future just got a lot more weird than it used to be!

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