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If you thought Motorola’s proposal for a signal-boosting throat “tattoo” was outrageous, wait till you wrap your head around Sony’s latest patent application. The Japanese technology firm is making a pitch for a sensor-rigged “SmartWig,” one that’s capable of processing and communicating data to other external devices. Worn as a replacement to one’s natural follicles or in addition to to, according to the filing, the high-tech toupee is designed to accommodate a variety of built-ins: an onboard GPS for navigating roads, ultrasound transducers that vibrate in response to oncoming obstacles, even an integrated laser pointer and remote to manipulate PowerPoint presentations.

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Another iteration of the SmartWig could monitor internal functions like body temperature, blood pressure, and brain activity, or parse outside environmental factors such as sound, humidity, temperature, and carbon-dioxide levels.

Another iteration of the SmartWig could monitor internal functions like body temperature, blood pressure, and brain activity.

So why the head? In addition to the comparably vast swathe of real estate allotted to your noggin, the head is more sensitive than other body parts prior wearables have focused on, including the feet, hands, or waist.

“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 application notes. “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 smartphones.”

The wig itself could comprise a range of materials, including horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or synthetics, as well as either a “fancy or funny appearance” or an inconspicuous one, Sony says. The device, the company adds, has the potential to become “very popular and commonly used,” even becoming “a kind of combined technically intelligent item and fashion item at the same time.”

And if wig technology continues to evolve at its current pace, future hairpieces could soon be virtually indistinguishable from their natural counterparts. “Therefore, it is believed that a wig as proposed herein has huge potential as a wearable computing device,” the application concludes.

+ SmartWig

+ Sony

[Via BBC News]