Smart Eyelashes and Fingernails are The Next Wave of Wearable Tech?
Katia Vega, 30, is a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She officially incorporated beauty technology into her thesis when she returned from her Hong Kong exchange program last year. The term seemed like the most fitting way to describe her focus on fashion and tech. Plus, she figured, it sounded catchy.
“My main area of study has been wearable computing,” she tells Mashable. “For a long time I’d been thinking about how that technology could disappear into everyday objects. And seeing all these glamorous accessories in Hong Kong made me realize exactly how I would do it.”
She’s focusing on two main branches of the project, so far: fingernails and conductive makeup.
The fingernails are rigged with individual radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. They can be applied the same way as any other artificial nail. The tags, are hidden beneath polish, glitter and plastic decorations — whatever the wearer prefers. They’re all extremely customizable, Vega says.
The RFID readers recognize tags within two centimeters, and can be synced to a variety of tasks you’d normally perform with a card. If, for example, the door to your office building is activated via card scanner, you can program one of the RFID nails to open the door instead. The program recognizes actions, too, so if you’d prefer to add a little flare — say, a finger snap — you can.
The makeup works in a similar way, using conductive material in the form of eyeliner and fake eyelashes, turning basic eye and facial movements into programmable actions — like Google Glass, without the Glass. The lashes are chemically metallized to mimic a natural, black color.
“This works, again, as a substitute to wearing an electronic device on your face,” Vega says. “The eyelashes and eyeliners work as switches. When the user blinks, a microcontroller can activate things like lights, TV channels and even drones.”
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