Reversing baldness may be one subtle zap away, says research

A team of engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a new, low-cost, ultra-low-power device that can be used to stimulate hair growth. The sleek and unobtrusive form factor of the device allows it to be discreetly worn without making it noticeable, or even visible.

Hair loss is undoubtedly one of the more serious body issues men face during their older years, as well as for some people with specific medical issues. While there have been many technological solutions developed throughout the decades, most usually involve strapping big devices periodically to your head, or the application of certain substances and chemicals that would simply eventually run out after a certain period of use.

The new device developed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers, however, instead uses the most intuitive power source one can have — ourselves. As described by the report, the device gathers energy using the body’s day-to-day motion. This means that so long as you are awake, or up and about doing stuff, this hair regeneration device can be powered almost indefinitely. No batteries needed, no complex power supply circuitry required.

As to how it exactly works, the mechanism used by the device to stimulate hair growth is based on electric stimulation. The energy gathered from your body’s movements are converted into low-frequency electric pulses, which are then directed to dormant hair follicles to let it grow. Or more specifically speaking, the electric pulses reactivates hair-growing structures in your head that are no longer active, or did not become active.

While the description alone sounds like it could be just some cheap health product from an obscure 90’s infomercial, the engineers are quite confident with its potential practicality. Take note that it simply stimulates dormant hair follicles. Which means that it is not introduced as a magical wonder device that would cause hair to suddenly grow again on heads where hair follicles have largely been removed through other means.

The device prototype, shown below.

The rather simple mechanism, combined with its ultra-low-power requirement, allows this device to be discreetly put under any casual headgear such as caps. Wearers can just continue using the device for as long as they stay active throughout the day.

In case anyone is concerned about the nature and intensity of the electric pulses, Xudong Wang, one of the research engineers, reassures that they are “incredibly gentle and don’t penetrate any deeper than the very outermost layers of the scalp“. In addition, as far as prototype tests are concerned, it does not seem to cause any harmful side effects to its wearers according to the research.

At the moment, the device and its design are already patented at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The research will be proceeding next to more live human testing, perhaps before commercializing the product sometime in the next few years.

Featured Image credit by jshyun via Flickr

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