Wig Out at the 3D House of Virtual Hairpieces
Let's HairTry! Aderans' new virtual toupee shop allows balding men to try on a variety of trendy hair styles and, curiously, eyeglasses from the comfort of their computer chairs. It's the eerie 3D imagery that really makes you wig out, however.
Aderans is one of Japan's biggest "Hair Clubs" and business must be booming as Japan's population steadily marches into grayer pastures and deals with the problem of hair loss. With the introduction of HairTry, Aderans gives men an opportunity to virtually try on a number of different toupees, perhaps as a way to let them get comfortable with the idea of wearing a real one. The company does not perform hair transplants.
The HairTry website has a number of odd features, however, the main one being the 3D effect visitors can give to photos they upload. It's eerie - even creepy - to watch a formerly still 2D image of one's self suddenly take on a pseudo-lifelike appearance not unlike that of a grainy webcam, blinking eyes and all! In addition, the image is slightly interactive... your face and eyes follow your cursor as you add and remove various toupees and spectacles. Try it, it's more than a little freaky!
Though the HairTry site is in Japanese, it's structured on a WYSIWYG basis so my instructions should be enough to get you going. There is also a "help" button - it's the right-hand button below the upload bar on the next screen. The text is in Japanese but it's not hard to figure out the basics.
When you arrive at the site and the flash intro ends, you'll be presented with a generic silhouette on the left and a male model's photo on the right. We'll choose the generic pic, but either way just click on the text button beneath your choice.
You can now upload a photo that's 480 x 680 pixels in size or less by clicking the upload button just under the generic photo. I'll volunteer to be the guinea pig here. You may have to try a few pics to find one that fits - use the "start again" button at the lower left as required. Once you upload a photo and it's been accepted, you can to start again by pressing the second button, the one with the small photo icon on it. If you're cool with your pic, get ready to get weird - and press the first button with the cube icon and "3D" on it... whoa!! Call in your friends and/or family members to check this out!
OK, now chase them away, it's time to get down to some virtual hair replacement. On the right side of the screen above the grid of different hairstyled heads you'll see three buttons. The first two are for the hairstyles: 1-15 and 16-30. The third one is for the eyeglasses.
Let's try on some toupees. Choose any hairstyle and put it on your photo by doing a regular drag & drop. Don't like how it looks? Just drag & drop a different rug, and note how your image seems to flinch and blink as if startled. It may take a second or two for the hair restoration to appear on your photo's head. Then adjust the fit using the 4-directional disc and two slider controls.
Now for some eyeglasses - I'm not sure why this feature is included since most glasses-wearers already have them on in their photos. But anyway, do the drag & drop again and replace glasses by just dragging a new pair over the previous ones. The button with a blue "x" on it removes the eyeglasses if the Hanson Brothers look just isn't you..
Below the adjustment buttons you'll see a wide button, which takes you to a dialog box where you can save your modified pic (yes) or return to the main screen (no). Below that button are, as mentioned, "help" on the right which takes you to the simulation area and "start again" on the left, which blanks your pic. If you're in Japan and save your chosen pic, you can then email it to Aderans who will prepare your selected men's wigs for your real self to try upon visiting one of their shops.
If this all seems rather strange and futuristic, well, it is! And yet it's just the start of what we will be seeing as time goes by and technology improves. Already women can view virtual makeup and hairstyles at some salons, and we may expect home-based applications like Stellure to become available for much more than hairpieces. Are you ready for it? OK, let's HairTry!
J A P A N O R A M A