Here is the gist of the report from Gizmag, SmartWig: Sony wants to sweep wearable electronics under the rug, by Brian Dodson (hat tip to David E. Y. S.):
The developers of Sony's SmartWig, Hiroaki Tobita and Takuya Kuzi, shared their thoughts on this...
“There is a wide variety of wearable computing devices, such as computational glasses, clothes, shoes, and so on... However, most wearable devices have become neither common nor popular... We think one of the biggest reasons is the style... the focus has been [on] function, not style... The goal of SmartWig is to achieve both natural and practical wearable devices.”
Function, however, is an important part of wearable electronics. Digging into US Patent Application Publication US20130311132, the key components of a SmartWig appear to be a sensor, a CPU, a communications interface to a second computer, and (of course) a wig that hides all this.
Although the patent covers a number of serious potential applications, such as a SmartWig to help a blind user navigate their surroundings, a health monitor, or an EEG interface for neurofeedback applications, most of the applications contemplated appear to be on the fringe, likely only to serve niche markets.
Other applications approach the ridiculous, such as the Presentation Wig. This coiffure will allow its user to control a laser pointer by wiggling one's eyebrows (that's right, it comes with frickin' laser beams attached to the head), and to step through a PowerPoint slideshow by tugging at the right sideburn.
The patent application makes a number of questionable points urging the naturalness of hiding computer equipment away under a rug. One of these is that a wig containing computer equipment is associated with "significantly increased user comfort and an improved handling of the wearable computing device."...
The final case the patent application makes for a SmartWig being a good idea is that a wig will conceal your computing and sensing equipment (yes, and the lasers) so that one's companions will remain unaware that you are either follicularly challenged or have become a cyborg.
There is a more serious point to this notion of concealment, however. A wig can attempt to conceal that you are using wearable electronics, although wigs are usually pretty easy to spot. However, what they may conceal effectively is how much equipment you are packing.
For example, if you want an accelerometer, multi-axis gyroscope, electronic compass, and some feedback vibrators (say, to help an elderly person keep their balance), these are so small they could easily be concealed in a well-fitted toupee:
On the other hand, if you are an International Man of Mystery, and need to carry about a full sensor and diagnostic system, complete with time-of-flight analysis that allows you to see around corners and through walls, you will be carrying a lot of equipment. Solution? Wear a bigger wig!...