NEW YORK – Can you imagine a robot doing his, like a manicure? Because that’s what three are working on startups Americans, to advance the lives of women in the salon of beauty. Clockwork, Coral and Nimble have developed distinct technologies and different business models to give customers rapid color change at their fingertips.
One of the start-ups, at least, had an amusing origin. Nimble’s girlfriend Omri Moran was late for a date with him. Reason: the nails were horrible, the result of a clumsy manicure. Soon, he began to envision a robotic approach to manicures and went to work on his idea, which has grown into the company he currently works for. The concept, which two other start-ups are working on separately, seeks to provide a simple, fail-safe way to paint nails.
The technology incorporates some kind of hardware — like a robotic arm — to paint nails, with software that relies on machine learning to distinguish a nail from the skin around it. Each company uses a different approach, but essentially relies on digitizing thousands of nail shapes to create a database.
The cameras inside the devices take pictures of each user’s nails, a process that is repeated every time a manicure is done, including on the same person.
The devices are still being tested and changed prior to their market debut. And none of the three companies are offering a full salon manicure, complete with styling and polishing. Still, they can compete with the growing nail care market.
As a market sector, manicure is a goal worth pursuing. Estimates put the nail care market at around $10 billion, and it could reach $11.6 billion by 2027. Investors found the alternative attractive. Julie Bornstein, founder of The Yes shopping app, invested in Clockwork, commenting that “I don’t like spending 40 minutes in the salon myself.”
Clockwork is the first to hit the US market on a limited basis. Last Friday, the company opened a test kiosk in a store in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco. Customers will pay $7.99 to test the device, which is slightly larger than a microwave. Instead of using a robotic arm, your machine uses a sort of mobile easel.
Clockwork secured $3.2 million in its first round of financing, while Coral got $4.3 million.
Nimble works with artificial intelligence and a robotic arm to provide a simple 10-minute manicure on a device the size of a toaster. The company ran a Kickstarter campaign and got $10 million in start-up funding.
Want to know everything about the technology sector? Understand by signing the EXAME