Photo of Katia Canepa

Computer & electronics hardware

Katia Canepa

Combining beauty products with electronics to create wearables that give users "superpowers

Year Honored

Latin America

Hails From

"After completing a computer science degree in Peru, to Katia Vega technology was justa science. It was the time she spent at the Hong Kong Baptist University (China) that completely changed the way she views her work. She decided to create artistic projects to present emerging technologies capable of transforming the future. Thislead to the Beauty Technology concept, which combines beauty products with electronics to ""confer a 'superpower' through technology"" as well as enhancing theuser´s appearance, she explains. Thanks to this idea, Vega has been selected as one of MIT Technology Review, Spanish edition´s Innovators Under 35 Peru 2016.

The Beauty Technology field encompasses creations like artificial nails which containradio-frequency identification (RFID) sensors, small magnets and a conductive polish.Thanks to this technology, a simple, fashion accessory is transformed into a platform which can interact with intelligent objects, like an electronic lock or a metro turnstile with NFC sensors. ""I love reimagining the world and a future in which the human body becomes an interactive platform,"" says Vega of her creations.

Vega was presenting this product at a trade fair when she met Felipe Esteves, an ex-jujutsu champion who suffered an injury during a training session which left him tetraplegic. Esteves asked for her help to perform tasks which for anyone else wouldbe easy, like changing the television channel, something that could take him over half an hour to complete. No sooner said than done, Vega developed Winky remote, small infrared remote control sensors that are covered with makeup and register facial movements like smiling, raising an eyebrow and blinking. With Winkyremote, Estevescan change the channel or turn the TV on or off with just a blink of the eye – literally.

One of Vega´s latest creations is Hairware, conductive hair extensions which form capacitive sensors and send signals via a Bluetooth in the form of a hairclip which inturn activate different smartphone functions. ""For example, if you are in danger, youcan send your location to a family member by just touching your hair, or record a conversation,"" explains the young, Peruvian engineer, who currently works at the MITMedia Lab."