Sony Corp., which popularized portable music players with the Walkman, is seeking a U.S. patent for “SmartWig” hairpieces that could help navigate roads, check blood pressure or flip through slides in a presentation.
The wig would communicate wirelessly with another device and include tactile feedback, Sony said in the filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Depending on the model, the hairpiece may include a camera, laser pointer or global positioning system sensor, it said.
The development of wearable technology such as eyeglasses, watches and earpieces is expanding as consumers seek new ways to integrate computers into everyday life. The race to gain a foothold in a market that Juniper Research estimates will jump about 14-fold in five years to $19 billion is luring companies including Sony, Google Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.
“It’s an interesting idea but I think it would be very difficult for Sony to commercialize,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Who will want to use this wig will become a problem.”
“It is an object to provide an improved wearable computing device,” Sony said in the patent application. “At least one sensor, 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.”