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The maker movement is coming to the nail salon.

That’s the vision of students from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., who presented their “Sensor Salon” project at Microsoft today — explaining how they created a prototype salon that brought together experts in design and development to create made-to-order technology for a client’s nails.

Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse (lower right) present their Sensor Salon project at Microsoft today.

Technologies embedded in the nails included small programmable LCD screens, and 3D printed objects and charms. They also tested a GPS prototype, allowing the customer to track her movement around the block, although the GPS technology they were using was too bulky to embed on a nail.

Other possibilities would include haptic feedback — sensors that would trigger small vibrations that could help people with bad habits such as smoking,.

One of the judges, Microsoft Research’s Bill Buxton, told the Art Center College of Design students that it was one of the best examples he has seen that “designers think differently than computer scientists.”

Another judge, Tom Igoe of NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts, pointed out that the disposable nature of the nails raises important questions for society to address as technology becomes more temporary.

The project, presented by students Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse, was one of nine design concepts presented by students from around the world this morning during the annual Design Expo presentations at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit.

Microsoft Research’s Design Expo was started more than 10 years ago by Microsoft researcher Lili Cheng, seeking to include student design teams from around the world — not just computer science students — in tech development. This year’s theme was, “In a world with a billion sensors, how will we make sense of it all?”

The presentations are still ongoing here at Microsoft’s Conference Center, but here’s a rundown of the projects.

  • Platform: A collaborative information system for subway stations (Escola Superior De Desenho Industrial, Brazil)
  • Tilt-it: A game device that helps kids improve physical imbalance issues (Media Innovation Lab, Israel)
  • Eade: A research toy for early autism detection & diagnosis (New York University, USA)
  • The Future of Wearable Services: A proposal for a pop-up sensor nail salon (Arts Center, USA)
  • Selective Reality: A philosophical framework that challenges notions of augmented reality (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Denmark)
  • Wired Eye: A kaleidoscope for viewing where in the world your data is stored (Goldsmiths, UK)
  • Grassroots: A platform for neighbors to connect by creating and sharing data from the neighborhood’s sensor network (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
  • Navi-Band: A tool toy for safety, navigation and play (Royal Danish Academy, Denmark)
  • Vive Band: Keeping young people safe during high risk situations (University of Washington, USA)
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