At CES this week, L’Oreal showed off a new concept in hair care. The Kérastase Hair Coach is an “under $200” connected hairbrush designed to monitor the health of your hair. A bevy of sensors are used to alert you to problematic brushing habits and you are presented with a daily hair quality score. Based on your score and the expected temperature, humidity, and wind for the day, you are then presented with personalized styling and treatment tips as well as product recommendations (we are guessing they will be Kérastase products). But how does it work and do you really need this International CES Innovation Award winning gadget?
The AAA powered Bluetooth Kérastase hairbrush is embed with sensors created by Withings (perhaps best known for their WiFi scales). There is a microphone to listen to the sound of the hair (which apparently correlates to hair dryness, frizz, and split ends), an accelerometer and gyroscope to determine brushing behavior (how hard do you brush, how do you move/twist the brush, and how many times do you brush – we are looking at you Marsha Brady), and sensors to determine if your hair is wet or dry. A connected app then scores the health of your hair and rates how breakable it is, providing a detailed look at damage, breakage, tangling, and dryness. Based on this information, tips are provided. You can also access a chart of the history of your hair health.
On the surface, the Kérastase Hair Coach seems a lot like Sonicare’s Bluetooth toothbrush: a solution looking for a problem. Just like the toothbrush, it over complicates a simple task and requires the additional hurdle of taking out your phone, launching an app, and connecting a device. That said, hair health is a tricky business that a lot of people care about. The issues that affect the health of your hair are difficult to perceive and, even then, most people are never taught how to fix problems with their hair. We can understand that why their would be a need for the Kérastase Hair Coach. Our biggest beef is that the companion app recommends products. Hopefully the app generically states “hydrating shampoo” or “texture cream.” If the nearly $200 brush is only going to recommend premium products from same brand, the cost of the brush (or future products) should be subsidized.
The Kérastase Hair Coach is an interesting product that solves a real need for information that people have. If someone said that for $200 they could make your hair healthier, stronger, and shinier, a lot of people would jump. The biggest issue still plaguing the connected home, especially Bluetooth devices in a bathroom, is the need to run a companion app on a phone. There has to be a better way to assimilate the data and present it. That eventually will come along with smart mirrors featuring integrated screens, sensors, and apps. But the tech is a long ways off and until then connected devices such as L’Oreal’s hairbrush with likely only be a niche product.