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Sony applies for computerised 'Smartwig' patent

We have smartwatches, Google Glass, and fitness bracelets, but could the next big thing in wearable computing be ... a smart wig?

Yes, you read that correctly. According to a recently released US patent filing, Sony is pursuing a patent for a "wearable computing device, comprising a wig."

That wig would be "adapted to cover at least a part of a head of a user, at least one sensor for providing input data, a processing unit that is coupled to ... at least one sensor for processing said input data, and a communication interface that is coupled to the processing unit for communicating with a second computing device."

"The processing unit and the communication interface are arranged in the wig and at least partly covered by the wig in order to be visually hidden during use," the patent says.

The patent was originally filed in May by Dr. Hiroaki Tobita, a researcher with the interaction group at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris.

The patent suggests that a wig has several advantages over traditional wearable devices, like "a significantly increased user comfort and an improved handling of the wearable computing device."

Meanwhile, the head creates a larger canvas than the average smartwatch or futuristic glasses. "There is enough space to place the components of the computing device ... without limiting the user in his daily life activities," the patent app says. "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."

Still, Sony's "smartwig" could be "easily combined with other wearable devices, such as computer glasses or smart phones."

Alerts could appear as vibrations or small electric shocks, similar to a vibrating cell phones. "A user can manipulate [a] computer by simply touching the wig," the patent says. "During a presentation the user may, for example, move forward or backward through presentation slides by simply pushing the sideburns."

"The laser pointer may, for example, be arranged on a forehead part of the wig, so that the user may point out relevant information on the projected slide in the above-explained presentation mode," the patent continues. "Moreover, a mouse pointer may be set on the back of the head of the user, so that the user can control the external computer remotely and move around freely."

Patent applications don't always become real products, of course, though Sony has already dabbled in wearable tech. For more, see our review of the Sony SmartWatch 2.

Image: Flickr (vistavision)