What We Can Expect to See in Beauty Tech at CES 2019
We’re busy preparing for CES, as I’m sure many of you are! Here are our predictions of what new beauty tech will be on the show floor in Vegas this January.
What's Been Happening in Beauty Tech
Last year at CES 2018 we saw multiple examples of ways to measure, monitor, and personalize: Neutrogena Skin360 and SkinScanner launched at CES with the product coming available later in the year; L’Oreal launched a battery-free wearable to monitor UV exposure and promote sun safety; and the Philips SmartSleep made getting your beauty sleep all the more easy. Kohler and HiMirror introduced products that give you makeup tutorials, skincare advice, and track how products work in the comfort of your own home. And on the hair care front, SalonLab customized products on-demand in the salon.
Even though we’re still in the early days of tech being embraced by the beauty industry, a lot has happened throughout 2018 to build on the momentum we’ve seen at CES the past two years. Personalization, personalization, personalization (did we say personalization?) is still the industry-wide trend that’s driving customized beauty products and experiences, with artificial intelligence and augmented reality playing leading roles on the tech side.
While many major beauty brands continue to develop new products within their own walls, we've seen a number of brands looking more and more to outside partnerships and investments to accelerate innovation and gain a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving market. Several major brands announced acquisitions or partnerships in 2018 with established startups and technology innovation firms (particularly in the AI, AR and other emerging technology spaces). For instance, L’oreal acquired Modiface this past March, giving the company an advantage on competitors in the emerging AR beauty app space, and confirming that AR/AI personalized decision-making in products is becoming less of a gimmick and more mainstream.
Recognizing the strong desire from the industry to measure, monitor, and quantify, we set out to make it easier. Many of the technical answers already exist in lab based technologies, but they are bulky, expensive, need high control over measurement conditions, etc. We see a growing trend towards bringing the lab/clinic home, and we bring capabilities that make it possible to transfer technology into the hands of the consumer.
Here are some areas we're investing in:
Democratizing Technologies: Skintuition is a great example of how you can bring the benefits of multi-spectral imaging into a consumer-use device. The concept system, which could also be applied to hair, allows the tracking of various skin attributes and changes over time.
Improving Analytical Models: We’ve broadened the scope of imaging and predictive technologies by building a light-tissue interaction model—a valuable tool to enable a new generation of truly personalized skin.
Making Technology Invisible: Many people want technology to be discrete and don’t want to carry around additional devices. With smartphones being ubiquitous, we wanted to demonstrate what was possible with no additional hardware. Our concept product, Reflexion (watch out for the press release soon!), makes skin diagnostics possible using only the phone.
Empowering Consumer Insights and Data: In the area of consumer trials, we see a very strong trend towards the use of technology to gain real-time insights in the real world. Until recently consumer trials have been limited to more qualitative focus groups, individual interviews, observation behind mirrors, diaries, etc, which limits the type and frequency of data that can be collected; and because traditional data collection methods are generally historical in nature they are prone to perception biases and are less agile to course correction from real-time insights. As a result, we see a massive opportunity to utilize technology in the consumers’ hands to gain valuable insights in real-time into product usage, efficacy, and context of use. This could improve the speed of product development, provide insight for new innovation, and also gather evidence for claims. It requires capabilities across system architecture, sensors, data science, AI, UI design and others to successfully realize this vision. We have all of these skills in-house and have designed an approach called Experiential Sensing as a first concept for empowering data-driven consumer insights.. We are excited about discussing this with folks in this space.
Here's What to Look Out For
1) AR is becoming far less of a gimmick, as the tech becomes more sophisticated, mobile, and able to provide a personalized experience with:
Selection and Customization of Products: helping users visualize what makeup and hairstyles look like on them before they buy, or analyzing skin and mixing a custom lotion on the spot
Product Performance Tracking: how is the moisturizer helping my skin? Should I switch to a new product? Tracking changes over time and visualizing evidence of impact with lablike precision at the consumers’ fingers
2) Products are becoming more and more integrated into the daily lifestyles of consumers, e.g., integration into the bathroom, at-home living spaces, and on-the-go, as AI tools become more sophisticated and mobile. Look for more personalized and contextually aware data clouds, lab-like diagnostics, and analytics that allow the user to track their skin/hair health over time and personalize regimes in response to real-time changes in weather, lifestyle, treatments, etc. And, as beauty tech becomes more ubiquitous in the consumer’s daily experience we’ll get to see who else jumps in the ring. What will the major appliance companies or tech giants like Apple, Amazon, or Google do? Will Apple pursue a watch with skin diagnostics or AI to recommend skin-care regime/products? Who will win, the beauty brands or the people who already own the home or mobile space?
3) Evidence creating technologies are becoming more sophisticated and integrated into the consumer products themselves, the product development process, business intelligence, communications, and operations. Two key areas getting more attention:
Evidence-Based Claims: We see a strong trend of technology being used to build quantitative data (in consumer trials and commercial use) to demonstrate efficacy and backup marketing claims of product performance and benefits. Imagine if you could follow every customer and see what they see, feel what they feel, and understand if your product is performing as intended? Nobody wants to claim a product benefit (e.g., reduces wrinkles, moisturizes skin, makes you look younger) if it doesn’t exist. Forward-thinking companies will turn to technology for a deeper understanding of their customers, in order to develop more innovative products and market evidence-based claims.
Evidence-Based Results for Consumers: Many skincare products require that the customer stick to a treatment regime for an extended periods of time, often months-on-end before results are noticeable. Consumers want to know that the product will meet their needs. After they purchase, they want proof that it’s working and they want to track changes over time to prove it.
Data in agriculture is flowing freely, which normally means a sensor network for soil information, and drone or visual inspection of plants from the air. Smart data gathering platforms will deliver the most complete data set that starts to unlock the mysteries of crop yield and disease detection.
Machine vision technology continues to rapidly advance and improve, performing object recognition at increasing rates and with increasing accuracy. What happens when the images being processed are obscured by the rain, snow, and mud of the real world? DeepRay™ is an AI technology that presents a clever solution to this deceptively difficult problem while making it look easy.
When developing a product, each client and project needs to decide what "done" looks like and what makes the most sense for the business. So how do you decide how good is good enough?
Synapse is a product development firm. We work with the best companies in the world to drive innovation and introduce cutting-edge devices that positively impact our lives. Fueled by a desire to solve complex engineering challenges, we develop products that transform brands and accelerate advances in technology.