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Robotic Manicures Land at JFK Airport

Published April 6, 2023
Published April 6, 2023
Karston Tannis / Monmouth Media House

Artificial intelligence is seeing rapid growth in the beauty and cosmetics industry, predicted to be worth $13.34 billion by 2030. Today, such technology is being used in a vast amount of beauty subcategories, from skincare diagnostic tools to in-store counters, fragrance, and cosmetic surgery exploration—there seems to be a way AI can be adopted regardless of the reason why. The most recent business to explore the benefits of AI through beauty is health and wellness company XWELL in collaboration with Clockwork, a pioneering company in the use of robotics for beauty. Together the pair have created a fully autonomous, AI-powered express manicure delivered by robots, located at JFK Terminal 4, the first airport in the world to feature this type of service.

Named MiNiCURE, the service delivers precise nail colors fast through a robot that pairs AI with 3D technology to paint a client's nails in under 10 minutes without the help of a human. The robot uses plastic-tipped cartridges to paint the nails delicately, stopping the process whenever the customer removes their hands from the dedicated area. Customers are guided through the process with a touchscreen device that allows them to select their desired manicure outcome. A live support feature is available at any time the customer needs communication with a real person. As well as the manicure service, MiNiCURE also offers an automated nail polish removal service, as well as a complimentary nail polish remover pot to keep.

"We are pleased to be the first in the world to introduce this type of technology in the airport setting," says XWELL Chief Executive Officer Scott Milford. "Together with Clockwork, we are unveiling a new, state-of-the-art, efficient way for people on the go to enjoy a manicure. This is just one of the ways that XWELL is enhancing its spa services to meet the needs of clients on their journey and demonstrating continued innovation in wellness offerings. Further, we will continue to leverage technology like this to deliver expediency, experience, and escape for our customers at an affordable cost."

The collaboration aims to offer retailers a new and innovative experience for customers on the move to help them meet the ever-changing expectations of consumer demand. According to Clockwork founder and CEO Renuka Apte, 90% of Clockwork customers have stated that they would like to see the brand's services at airports, making the decision to introduce the MiNiCURE to JFK a no-brainer.

The MiNiCURE is not the first time that beauty has seen robots step in to offer a service. Oakland-based brand Luum Precision Lash uses AI-powered robotic technology to apply eyelash extensions for consumers. The brand, which has received funding from names including Ulta Beauty, claims that its service is up to three times faster than human application, which they believe helps salons to thrive, offering more service over a given time period than a human would.

Robotic beauty services do not end there; in 2021, Amorepacific hosted a retail experience powered by robots. At the event, the brand used robots to create customized bath bombs based on the results of customers' questionnaires that determined their preferences and desired benefits from their products. The whole process took only two minutes to complete as consumers watched on.

Robots have also been known to help with broader beauty needs, such as packaging. In 2020, it was predicted that Coty could save $500 million a year at its manufacturing facility in Maryland, where eight robots are stationed in charge of picking and packaging Coty's beauty and cosmetics products. Unilever follows closely behind, with the companies robots Gwen and Ariana, among others, in charge of material innovation at the brand's £68 million facility in North England. According to Vogue Business, Gwen analyzes the density of products, processing 96 samples per day, and Ariana tests for stretches, damage prevention, and longevity, with over 200 fibers being processed in under 30 minutes.

While many consumers are still skeptical about the use of AI and robots, with only 49% trusting the technologies' intentions, the demand for such services in beauty does not seem to be slowing down. In a time where it seems AI technology is infiltrating all areas of life, whether trusted or not, it is fair to say that day-to-day experiences, especially those at JFK airport, are set to become significantly more interesting.


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