Clothing with “sewn in” electronics was yesterday. Now Beauty Tech is placing it on your skin, in you lashes and in your hair.
When the person sitting across from you plays with her hair, it isn’t necessarily a sign of nervousness. She might also be making a secret recording or alarming the police via smartphone. “Capacitive” hair extensions make it possible. Wires are woven into artificial hair that is attached to a conventional hair clip, which contains a Bluetooth module and an Arduino microcontroller.
When you touch the capacitive wire sensors, it changes the capacity. And it does so differently depending on where and how you touch the hair. The microcontroller’s job is to convert the touches into the appropriate commands. And the Bluetooth module sends them to the smartphone.
The magic hair was developed by designer Katia Vega together with the Brazilian company Beauty Tech. It is supposed to allow women in dangerous situations to call for help without being noticed.
But this so-called “beauty technology” goes even further. It calls for using parts of the body’s surface as an interactive platform. To do so, technology is integrated directly into beauty products that are applied to the skin, finger nails and hair. “Conductive” eyeliner, for example, could make it possible to switch a light on or off or control a drone by blinking. Make-up could also serve as a sensor surface. And just think of what you could do with wigs!
Right now, smart hair is still a prototype. The concept was presented for the first time at the “2015 Intelligent User Interfaces” conference in Atlanta in March, where it won the Best Demo award. But if this “cyborgisation” actually does continue to run rampant, touching people could be dangerous in the future. After all, it might be a “sensor being” with a direct line to the fire department.