Researchers develop hair counting software
Melbourne: Australian researchers have developed a new software which can count hairs in a patch of skin and could help in testing the effectiveness of baldness treatments and depilatory creams.

Researchers from CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences in Sydney report their findings in the November issue of the journal Skin Research and Technology.

The software, developed in partnership with a UK company, will make it easier for researchers developing hair removal creams to accurately assess how well they work, image analyst Pascal Vallotton was quoted as saying in ABC report here.

"Up to now they were counting the number of hairs that survived after treatment manually. That's hard work and it's difficult because you may count a hair twice or you may miss it, so image analysis offers distinct advantages because you always get the same counts and you get the right counts," he said.

The software relies on images captured by a small flatbed scanner pressed onto the skin. Using a mathematical algorithm, the software then identifies and traces each individual hair based on an understanding of a hair's unique features, such as its relative straightness.

The software is able to distinguish between hairs and other features on the skin such as wrinkles, wounds or moles.

"We have a lot of defects in our skin irregularities that make it difficult to say this is a hair or this is a wrinkle," Vallotton said adding comparison between earlier and later images can also determine if hair is growing quickly or slowly.