At this year’s IUI, a user interface conference in Atlanta, Georgia, beauty technologist Katia Vega presented her newest project: Hairware (she’s also created make-up that can launch drones when you blink). Essentially, Hairware is a hair extension you can use to control your smartphone. Here’s how it works: the extensions are plated with a super-thin layer of conductive material. When you stroke it, your fingers change the material’s electric charge, which is picked up by a micro-controller. That change sends info to your phone via Bluetooth.
While at first this may seem kind of unnecessary (is it really that hard to use your thumbs to swipe?), Vega has some pretty practical uses for her invention. The idea that stands out the most is Hairware’s ability to broadcast a woman’s location or activate a preset emergency text message without visibly using the phone. You can also use it to discreetly record a conversation, take a selfie, open apps or send text messages.
To all you short-haired dudes feeling super bummed right about now, we have some good news. Vega also has plans to make Hairware for beards. She tells New Scientist, “I still need to figure out the design. It could involve connecting a conductive beard to a clip hidden on the back of a shirt collar. Our next step is to understand male behavior and how they relate to their beards.”
If you already have your credit card out, hold up — you’re going to have to wait a while longer before you can attach these extensions to that glorious mane of yours. Vega’s product is still in its development phase. While there is no set release date yet, she says she hopes to commercialize the technology. Until then, you’ll just have to rely on your trusty old fingers to control your smartphone.
Would you use this technology? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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