Interactive Human Hair Is the Latest in Wearable Tech

Unless you’re a member of the Na’vi or Homer Simpson wearing a (literally) killer toupée, odds are your hair is just… hair. But now there’s some wearable tech being developed at UC Berkeley that could make the protein filaments sprouting from your dome fully fledged members of the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as–quite apparently–a great way to freak people out.

Boing Boing picked up on this very hairy research going on at UC Berkeley, which is being pioneered by Associate Professor Eric Paulos and his students. Paulous et al. have published a paper on the interactive hair in The Hybrid Ecologies Lab with the title “HäirIÖ: Human Hair as Interactive Material,” outlining how human hair is a good option for being turned into a gadget because it “presents a unique and little-explored site for novel interactions” and is “something both public and private, social and personal, malleable and permanent.”

In the clip above, we get a glimpse at what HäirIÖ is capable of doing, which is seemingly much of what a smartwatch is capable of doing. E.g. giving you directions, alerting you to text messages, sending simple text messages, and raising from your head like some Medusa cranium-snakes to ward off your enemies. (Okay, smartwatches can’t really do the last thing, but these electro-braids can’t tell you the time, so it’s a draw.)

It’s hard to say whether or not hair wearables (hair-ables?) will ever catch on, but we wouldn’t rule anything out as these are some very crazy times in general, and the IoT in particular is gaining a lot of ground, especially when it comes to plugging our bodies into the net. Although we should caution scientists against turning us into Leela from the  Futurama episode “Leela and the Genestalk.”

What are your thoughts on these weird electro-braids? Give us your thoughts on these locks in the comments below!

Images: Fox,  Hybrid Ecologies

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