Robot Manicure: Will Robots Replace Nail Salons?
29 December 2021
What if a robot could give you a beautiful, contact-free manicure in just 10 minutes flat?
Thanks to Clockwork, the world’s first robot manicure company, that dream is now a reality.
According to the Clockwork website, many women spend 60 minutes a week (or 3,120 minutes a year) getting their nails done by human nail professionals. Using an autonomous robot for manicures offers a quicker, cheaper, hassle-free way to get your nails done.
You can get a fresh coat of nail polish in less than a quarter of an hour, for only $7.99 – no awkward small talk or tipping required.
Welcome to Your Automated Manicure
Here’s how it works: Each user books and pre-pays for a 10-minute appointment to use the machine. When the customer arrives, they choose a nail polish color and place the polish cartridge into the Clockwork robot, which looks like a big purple box.
Then they place their fingers into the machine, one at a time. The machine captures a series of photos of the user’s hand with built-in 3-D cameras, so it can build a multi-dimensional map. The artificial intelligence in the machine then uses that map to figure out where it needs to put the nail polish.
For each finger, the machine waits until the user says “Ready” or pushes a button before squirting nail polish on the surface of the nail.
Keep in mind that the Clockwork machine provides a no-frills paint job that doesn’t include nail clipping, cuticle removal, filing, or hand massages. The company refers to this service as a “minicure.”
Clockwork just opened their first location in San Francisco, with plans to expand in other areas of the country.
The Future of Jobs in the Nail Industry
The beauty industry – specifically nail salons – have traditionally been a job source for undocumented workers. In New York City alone, there are more than 4,000 nail salons. When salons shut down or permanently closed during the pandemic, approximately 80 percent of nail salon workers in New York didn’t qualify for any federal aid.
According to a study from Oxford Economics, up to 20 million worldwide jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and trucking will be replaced by automated technology. Robots are getting better at doing more tasks – even physical tasks we once assumed would be too difficult for them to pull off, like manicure.
So with the advancement of this robot for performing nail services, what will happen to jobs in this industry?
Clockwork says the machines are not meant to replace full-service nail salons. They don’t intend to eliminate jobs or push workers out of their livelihood.
While Clockwork’s AI system is unique and innovative, it will never replace the abilities of a trained professional. For instance, a robot can’t taper the sidewalls of nails, prep the nail plate, or provide detailed nail art.
Because the robots don’t provide full manicures, Clockwork says salons could offer them to customers for quick touch-ups between their regular appointments. The machines could actually be integrated into the menu of services offered by the salon, lowering the burden on workers and decreasing their exposure to chemicals.
Many beauty industry professionals don’t see the machines as a threat to their profession, and intend to embrace the new technology and co-exist with the robots. With conscientious and continuous transparency between the AI companies and the humans in the nail industry, there is room for everyone to co-exist and provide the high-quality services customers want.
To learn more about future trends and how robots and automation are affecting the future of jobs across the globe, check out my books, Business Trends in Practice: The 25+ Trends That are Redefining Organizations and Tech Trends In Practice: The 25 Technologies That Are Driving The 4th Industrial Revolution.
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