Co.Design

This Wearable Nail Art Can Help You Break Bad Habits

At the Art Center College of Design, two students create technologically enhanced nails featuring digital sensors.

There are fitness bands that track your daily steps and iPhone apps that trace your REM cycle and now students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, have expanded tracking technology to the realm of nail beds. MFA candidates Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse created digital sensors to provide bio feedback, behavior modification, and programmed reminders. The nails are designed to send pulses to the wearer when they are about to touch something, either to prohibit the act or to signal the user to track it.

Inspired by the ubiquity of nail salons, Ortega and Rodenhouse conceived of a new retail service that acts like a nail parlor with a technological twist. In these proposed pop-up shops, "technology technicians" embed fingernails with smart sensors that are customizable to provide different services, such as pulses to the user's fingers. A small buzz to the fingertips could be programmed when the user touches a cigarette, for example, providing a physical reminder to abstain.

The project came out of an Art Center’s Media Design Practices course called Wearable Ecologies, which explores the possibilities and challenges of tech wearables. According to Ortega’s website, wearables are currently designed "for tech people by tech people." This project, which they called Wearable Services, is trying to break through that barrier by creating a collaborative service industry that can be used in everyday life.

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