#184: Tonsurety

Hairstyling is a matter of big emotional significance for surprisingly large numbers of people. Experienced coiffeurs can tell at a glance whether a particular style will suit any given individual, but for the customer it’s difficult to choose appropriate designs.

Sure, you can cut and paste a static haircut image onto your passport photo at a number of online venues, but somehow the effect is never that convincing -or reassuring.

Now that animation experts (eg at Pixar) have managed to solve the research question of how simulated hair moves, today’s invention is a way for people to use that information to plan their new hairstyle.


A webcam image would be taken of the customer’s crown, to indicate the basic layout of their hair growth pattern. This, together with some information about hair type (eg, wiry, greasy, etc) would be used as input to a program which would create a model of their current hairstyle.

Armed with this information, a stylist could simulate the process of cutting the hair into different shapes (recording the process for training purposes, perhaps) and then supply a customer with a range of fully animated options.

(In theory, it would then also be possible to have the haircut undertaken remotely. The customer could place their head inside a electrostatically-charged sphere, with radius larger than the longest hair, which would cause every hair to stand on end and be clipped to the length specified in the animation model. This would only be for intrepid and/or impatient types, though, since I’m informed that watching a hairstylist perform the cut is actually a valued part of the experience).

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