Girls day out !

The skin care analyst robot

Roooarrr ! So I went crusading in women territory with my friend. We took an afternoon to explore the realms of facial beauty, a real event that happens every 5 years or so. Yes, really. We decided solemnly “It’s time we know. Let’s do it”. You would think women know this stuff naturally but it’s just like shell scripting, you need to learn it, it’s not loaded in your brain. And since I refuse to buy a book about facial beauty, I had to update from real world, it’s way more fun.

So we went to see the “professionals”. Apart from the cleansing lotion and some things we heard one day we really knew very little. So it was quite intimidating to go and ask the lady in the white coat, in front of the dozens of creams “So…what is all this stuff ?” We didn’t even know where to start. It’s indeed embarrassing. Fortunately, technology was around the corner, much to my delight.

For one moment there, I had the impression that I suddenly leapt through time. I don’t go to this kind of store often so in a weird way, the sudden presence of technology made me feel I was actually living the future : I have been commercially advised by the machine “in person”. The experience was quite compelling. The store had installed tablets everywhere for customers to seek advice about the cream they should use. Basically it was an iPad app that would ask you questions, make a diagnosis and then output the products that most fit your needs. Almost exactly what a saleswoman would do. I could even send the diagnosis to my email, which is a smooth way for them to send me their updates even if of course I sent it to my spam address (I’m not crazy !).

Well, we got our diagnosis and from that point on we could have a constructive dialog with the skin analyst. Well, “constructive” … not quite. I still really don’t get all the differences between all the creams, there are just SO many. We were like lab mice lost in the maze of beauty products, it was too much and everything is crazy expensive. Did you know there is such a thing as “facial transparent powder”, or an “eyebrow seal” to comb your eyebrows ? Unfortunately there is no Steve Jobs for make-up :
“We made One facial cream for everyone. Isn’t that a-MA-zing?” 

The problem is that of course everything is put together so that in the end you buy. So from the advice of the app to the advice of the analyst, I had the impression that they were just calculating the best combination that would maximize their profit. I was quite suspicious that I really needed 3 facial creams that cost 200 euros. Yet, commercially, putting apps in the store is really great, it engages the customer and it’s really practical. You know, when you go to the bookstore for example, and you can’t find the person who can inform you or he’s too busy ? Well since in the end he’s just gonna check the store database to tell you where that particular book is, it would really be great to display this database in small apps around the store. I know, who still goes to bookstores, right ? Ok, but my point is more about stores in general.

I was quite pleased to see great quality apps helping customers in stores, I hope there will be more. Today it’s just a draft and the experience is really simple, but the real need in this, is the capacity of technology to properly advise you according to your needs. Whether it’s proprietary apps or an algorithm that follows you and adapts to you, that’s where it’s going. I wouldn’t say it’s better than people, but it can really help when you have a basic question, people can maybe then focus on real advice.

Well, I will not disclose what I finally bought, I still need to experiment it, but what a fun day that was, a great getaway ! Next step : when a robot gives me skin care advice by sampling my skin cells.