How Stroking Your Hair Can Secretly Control Apps


I have long hair, and I love it. There is so much you can do with long hair. As it turns out, you can even control apps on your smartphone with it. Yep, someone has figured out how we can stroke our hair with our fingers and secretly record a convo, take a selfie or even send a text. Hair-controlled smartphones sound like something out of a science fiction movie, and I hope I get to try it firsthand someday.

This ingenious innovation is called Hairware, and it was developed by Katia Vega. The way it works is surprisingly simple. It’s a wearable that is planted into hair extensions. Depending on how you play with your hair, you will control apps on your phone.

From a personal safety perspective, I think this is brilliant. Imagine if a woman is in a bad situation, and she desperately needs to call for help. By simply playing with hair, she could send an emergency text.

By allowing the sensors in hair extensions to detect touch patterns and thus control apps, our hair is turned into the ultimate top secret wearable. It reminds me of when Google Glass added that feature where you could take a picture by winking.


According to Katia’s website:

Hairware acts as a capacitive touch sensor that detects touch variations on hair and uses machine learning algorithms in order to recognize the user’s intention. Artificial hair extensions were chemically metalized for acquiring electrical conductivity while also keeping a natural coloration. Each time the user touches the top, middle or tip, the capacitor sensor differentiates these values.

You may be wondering, what about the men?

You’ll be happy to know that Katia plans to use this same tech in mens’ beards. Yep, men will be able to control apps by stroking the hair in their beards.

It seems like many new wearables today allow us to be secretive (and encourage us to be secretive) when interacting with our devices.  Like Fashioning Tech asked, do we have an obligation in social situations to let other people know when we are using our devices? Or is it personal?

Perhaps we aren’t under any moral obligation to disclose this information. If you view a wearable as an extension of your own body then there is certainly an argument for privacy. It’s interesting how there isn’t a social norm already established for this situation.

Don’t worry, the girl you had a date with last Friday night didn’t secretly record your convo by touching her hair. This wearable is only in the prototype stage.

YouTube: How stroking your hair can secretly control apps (by New Scientist)

Source: New Scientist / Fashioning Tech
Photo credit: New Scientist / _zhang

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Diana Adams
Diana Adams
Diana is a USC graduate, tech entrepreneur and member of the Apple Consultants Network. She has written 4,200+ blog posts around the blogosphere. She loves innovation, creativity and grande Java Chips. She's also a frequent user of the force. Connect with her on Twitter at @adamsconsulting or email me at
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