She's done it again: Beauty technologist, Katia Vega (together with fellow researchers, Marcio Cunha and Hugo Fuks) is once more pushing the boundaries of wearable electronics with her latest project, Hairware.
Hairware is beauty technology using chemically metalized hair extensions as a capacitive touch interface. Actions are triggered when the wearer touches her hair - the extensions are natural-looking and are able to be completely hidden on users with long hair. Hairware allows unconscious behavior, like twirling and playing with hair, to be interpreted by an algorithm and expressed in a number of different ways.
Stroking your hair could send a message to a loved-one, trigger a confidence-boosting message or, of course, take a selfie.
Using the body as an interactive platform, the seamless and embedded nature of Hairware raises interesting questions about the advantages and disadvantages of disguising technology on one's body. Do we have a social obligation to signal to others when we're interfacing with our devices in social situations? Or should we just expect our devices to simply become another layer of social interaction?
Katia and her team already have an impressive collection in their Beauty Technology range, such as conductive make-up and RFID fingernails projects. What I find really interesting about the mixing of these media is the combination of modern digital hardware interfaces and the ancient techniques of beauty and fashion. One is generally regarded as serious business, while the other is normally considered frivolous. Katia's work challenges our assumptions that physical adornment is unimportant and shows us that technology's only limitation is human imagination.