Beauty products and wearable technology are colliding to make the body an interactive platform.
Conductive make-up, programmable fragrance, digitally fabricated nails ‘ beauty products are the next frontier for wearable technology, redesigning human-computer interactions and creating new experiences using the skin as an interface.
Flexible electronic components have the potential to augment, adorn and make people feel connected without being ‘plugged in’.
Darcy Summerton of international trends forecaster LS:N Global looks at some innovators of wearable beauty technology.
Katia Vega, a computer scientist from Brazil, is creating new ingredients for cosmetics that incorporate motion sensors and conductive materials.
Her project, entitled Beauty Technology, explores the possibilities of chemically metalicised eyelashes, radiofrequency identification (RFID) nails, electronic makeup and interactive hairware. Throughout her work Vega asks the question, ‘Could your skin act as an interface?’.
FX e-makeup is a new prototype that is applied to the face to sense muscle movement, acting as a second skin. Electronic components are hidden in the makeup materials and can trigger multiple devices. ‘The eyelashes and eyeliners work as switches. When the user blinks, a microcontroller can activate things such as lights, TV channels and even drones,’ explains Vega.
Says Thad Starner, technical manager for Google’s Project Glass: ‘This is a clever use of materials and, more importantly, it highlights how today’s beauty products could be repurposed to create computational interfaces.’ Unlike Google’s Glass and Samsung’s smartwatch, though, these applications are invisible.
Aisen Caro Chacin, a graduate from Parsons New School for Design in New York, has created Scent Rhythm, a time-keeping device that reflects the body’s 24-hour cycle with carefully chosen fragrances.
The wrist-worn device releases a fragrance and a supplement every six hours in conjunction with certain daily activities; espresso and caffeine in the morning to make the user more active and chamomile and melatonin in the evening to have a soothing effect.
‘Olfaction and chronoception are both chemical senses, so I thought it would be interesting to map them onto one another,’ says Chacin.
To dispense the scent, the user must click the button one to four times depending on the function – sleep, awake, active or rest. The watch is powered by a small lithium-ion battery and is charged via a micro USB port.
TheLaserGirls, a collaboration between artists Sarah Awad and Dhemerae Ford, has brought 3D printing to the beauty market with a collection of digitally fabricated (either in metal or nylon) adhesive nails available on Shapeways, the 3D printing marketplace.
Fit for the Tumblr generation, the 3D-printed collection includes lace- and Lego-printed surfaces and is inspired by optical illusions and science fiction.
‘It’s moved from high fashion into something every woman can wear,’ says Awad.
Featured at the Wearable Tech Show in New York, the products are another example of the potential application of wearables in the beauty industry.
LS:N Global is a subscription-based service developed by The Future Laboratory. It helps you understand the market and consumer forces shaping a wide variety of industries globally. Updated daily by a global team of researchers, analysts, forecasters, visualisers and correspondents, LS:N Global helps you to future-proof your brand.
LSNGLOBAL.COM; THE FUTURELABORATORY.COM