Those clip-in hair extensions you once thought were so revolutionary are about to look like an ancient artifact next to the ones created by beauty tech designer Katia Canepa Vega. In what she refers to as a "mix between magic and a James Bond gadget," Vega has developed a set of extensions with a conductive material woven into the strands that can trigger your smartphone to send a text message, record a conversation, and yes, even take a selfie just by running your fingers through the lengths. After two separate trips to the UK and Hong Kong, the abundance of hair accessories and extensions ruling the street style of both areas were what sparked the idea for her Hairware pieces.
"We know that wearable technology is not the future---it's the present. We can see all the new products on the market, but they're all on clothes or accessories," Vega tells InStyle. "I went for an exchange program to Hong Kong for a year, and I saw girls wearing big eyelashes and decorated nails, which made me think about giving them more power. Then, while I was visiting the UK, a lot of girls wore hair accessories and extensions, so I became obsessed with integrating that technology into hair." With a line of wearable tech faux nails, as well as electroconductive lashes and makeup already under her belt, the Hairware project was her next obvious move.
At first glance, the extensions look like your typical clip-in hair pieces, but actually include pieces of conductive strands that recognize the touch of your hand, which shifts the electric charge and sends the signal to your phone. Depending on if you reach for the top, middle, end, or stroke the entirety of your strands, a different command is activated, and the women who took the extensions on a test drive saw more to their purpose than a quick way to snap a selfie. The extensions actually double as a security device, and can be programmed to send a message to your friends or the authorities if you're in an unsafe situation. Though they have to be charged and must be kept dry to work, Vega notes that you can actually wash them with specific products.
Unfortunately, you won't be able to score a set of your own anytime soon---Hairware is still in its developmental phase, but Vega does predict that wearable beauty technology will go mainstream very soon. "I really believe in this new wave of wearables that are not just on your clothing or accessories," she says. "I didn't commercialize the Beauty Technologies yet, but I am still looking for investors and partners to do that." Looks like it's your move, Shark Tank investors... Head over to Vega's YouTube channel to see the hair extensions in action, then check out more of her awesome beauty tech inventions at katiavega.com.