HäirIÖ: Human Hair as an Interactive Material.

TEI'18 HäirIÖ: Human Hair as an Interactive Material. Christine Dierk, Sarah Sterman, Molly Jane Nicholas, Eric Paulos. ACM Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction
Paper | Video | Instructable | Source code


Human hair is a cultural material, with a rich history displaying individuality, cultural expression and group identity. It is malleable in length, color and style, highly visible, and embedded in a range of personal and group interactions. As wearable technologies move ever closer to the body, and embodied interactions become more common and desirable, hair presents a unique and little-explored site for novel interactions. In this paper, we present an exploration and working prototype of hair as a site for novel interaction, leveraging its positionas something both public and private, social and personal,malleable and permanent. We develop applications and inter-actions around this new material in HäirIÖ: a novel integration of hair-based technologies and braids that combine capacitive touch input and dynamic output through color and shape change. Finally, we evaluate this hair-based interactive technology with users, including the integration of HäirIÖ within the landscape of existing wearable and mobile technologies.


Hackster article

Hackaday article

Arduino article

dramatic style change with hairio circuit hairio braid in context

My role

This project started as a paper that Christie had been working on for a while. She invited Sarah and I to collaborate with her, and when the deadline was extended, we did a major brainstorming session and re-did nearly the whole thing. As with many of our lab’s papers, this project was highly collaborative. Christie was the lead when it came to design decisions, but we all contributed to writing the code, designing the circuit, framing the paper, planning the user study, and writing the paper.

I was primarily responsible for running and analyzing the user study. I also did the filming and editing of the video.

An amazing meme created by @Kirgan_S on Twitter.

© 2023 / Molly Jane Nicholas / email