It sounds like something out of “The Jetsons,” but robots are making a play for the multibillion dollar beauty business with lash extensions, manicures and even hairstyling getting a futuristic makeover.
While the robotics startup Luum is still in its crowdfunding phase, they've started accepting customers in Oakland, California, to test out their lash extension technology. Laura Pochop, who recently tried the service, said that she was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
“The actual feeling of it reminded me of when my kids were little and they give you butterfly kisses,” she told Vicky Nguyen, NBC News senior consumer investigative correspondent.
Here's how it works: Robots apply lash extensions in 30 minutes or less — a quarter of the time it can take their human counterparts.
After her robot encounter, Pochop told TODAY the results were pretty similar to what she sees when a human being applies the lashes, but she enjoyed how efficient the machine was.
"It’s so precise and small ... it made sense to me right away that a robot could be really good at it," she noted.
According to Luum CEO Nathan Harding, the robots use featherweight, ultra delicate wands that are designed to break away to prevent injuries if anything unexpected happens.
"If you were to just sneeze or something during a session, and you thrust your face toward these wands, they just fall off. That’s the worst you can do," he explained.
The service costs around $160 for a full set of lashes and $85 for refills, and Harding expects Luum to hit certain retailers later this year.
It sounds pretty cool, but we had to wonder: What about the lash technicians whose jobs these robots seem to be eliminating? Harding said they'll still be on hand to help clients pick which lashes they want and to monitor the machines.
"We’re transforming the beauty services industry by giving lash artists a tool that they can use to increase their productivity three-fold and make it a much faster, more glamorous experience for the client," he said.
Robots are also tapping into the nail business with advanced technology like the Clockwork "Minicure" that uses 3D cameras to paint a full set of nails in 10 minutes (that's just 30-40 seconds per nail!). For now, the robo-mani is only available in San Francisco and at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, and costs $8 for a basic service and $10 if you want a topcoat.
Clockwork Founder and CEO Renuka Apte said the service is a bit different than your typical manicure, comparing it to a fast-casual restaurant versus a sit-down restaurant.
"A nail salon is more about the pampering and luxury and intricate nail art and really the human interaction ... whereas we want to be, like, quick in and out," Apte said.
Vicky Nguyen recently test drove the service for TODAY and was pretty impressed.
“There’s a little bit of edge missing right there, but nothing that would be noticeable,” she said after evaluating the results.
Here's how it works: The robot uses a soft, plastic-tipped cartridge to paint your nails, and you can take your hand out of the machine at any point during the service. Intrigued? Clockwork will be available at more retailers later this year.
Engineers at Dyson are also experimenting with innovative technology and have programmed robots to dry and style hair so they can test the company's hot tools.
Looks like beauty bots might be here to stay!