IoT Lends a Hand in the Beauty Industry

Manicures are time consuming and expensive, so companies are turning to IoT to streamline the beauty treatment. New robots use machine vision and artificial intelligence to produce a simple manicure that is fast, inexpensive, and doesn’t require human interaction.


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Image credit: Nimble

The average manicure is about $23 and lasts approximately 30 minutes, which adds up quickly. That is why Nimble co-founder and CEO, Omri Moran, launched the Nimble manicure robot on Kickstarter in April 2021. The Nimble robot is small, weighing only four pounds and measuring approximately one square foot. At-home manicure robots like this appeal to individuals who want the look of a good manicure without the time and recurring cost. 

To begin the manicure process, users insert one hand in the robot, and the robot scans the size, shape, and curvature of each nail using embedded high-resolution micro-cameras. Machine vision and 3D imaging algorithms determine the painting pattern and communicate it to the robotic arm within the machine. 


The robot requires specialized polish sets that provide three manicures. The user inserts the polish tubes into the robot, and then the robotic arm attaches to each brush and paints the users’ nails using the pattern calculated by the IoT technology. The arm paints a base coat, two color coats, and a top coat before the user switches hands. The robot cannot analyze or paint thumbs and fingers together, so users must insert each thumb separately. While the robot is painting the user’s nails, an internal airflow system dries the user’s nails. The end result is dry, painted nails in less than ten minutes. 

The Nimble robot supports WiFi and Bluetooth and has an associated mobile app. The mobile app enables users to explore polish colors, initiate the manicure, and follow the nail-painting process in real time. Users can also start the manicure using a button on top of the robot and follow along with a light series. The company plans to officially launch the Nimble manicure robot in January 2022. 

Robots Nail It

In San Francisco, a similar autonomous manicure robot is being tested. Users can go to the Clockwork lab where a robot can paint their nails for $7.99 in less than 10 minutes. The Clockwork robot is a little larger than the Nimble robot and is aimed at retail and commercial use in salons rather than home use. 

The Clockwork manicure robot uses computer vision, artificial intelligence, and embedded cameras to build a nail shape database. This database, which includes thousands of nail analysis images, helps the robot perfect its painting skills. Like the Nimble robot, the Clockwork can only paint nails, not cut or shape them, and it requires special polish cartridges to be inserted into the device for each use.

Users place their already prepped nails one at a time into the robot. The robot then creates a pattern or map of each finger using internal cameras. The images from those cameras are then analyzed using artificial intelligence, which then directs the robot’s multi-axis arm to move. The arm then paints the nail, with the user's verbal approval. The painting process for the Clockwork robot does not include a brush, and instead pipes or dispenses polish onto the nail in a zig-zag pattern. Currently, the Clockwork robot only paints one color coat.

Robots and Relaxation

Manicures aren’t the only beauty treatments incorporating IoT technologies. Singapore-based startup AiTreat has designed a robotic masseuse. EMMA, or Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, uses sensors and 3D vision to give personalized massages. Using an AI-based system, EMMA analyzes thousands of data points, including information on different types of bodies, to calculate pressure points and muscle stiffness for each customer. EMMA’s treatment modules can mimic human touch and are warmed to between 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure customers are comfortable. 

Massage robot provides multiple data sets of information

Image credit: AiTreat/EMMA 

EMMA can perform a variety of massages, including sports massages. Currently, 11 EMMA robots operate in eight locations in Singapore. AiTreat plans to launch additional EMMA robots and introduce physiotherapeutic robots as well. 

  • Learn more about Nimble.
  • See the robotics used in the Clockwork system.
  • Learn more about EMMA robotic therapeutic technology.  


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