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Look in a smart mirror and never shop for beauty products the same way

Smart mirrors could change how you shop for beauty products


Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the smartest of them all? The smart mirror is, of course.

Smart mirrors are busting onto the scene and you will never be able to shop for another face serum or mascara the same way again.

Let me put it to you this way: We tried a test version of the HiMirror Mini at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas at the beginning of the year, and after it snapped my picture, the smart beauty device determined that I'm developing a decent amount of fine lines. Once you see your reflection through HD eyes, you'll be able to count every wrinkle and every pore, whether you want to or not. Talk about motivation.

Smart mirrors like this model by HiMirror are bursting onto the scene, and stand to shake up the beauty industry. (Circa)

At CES, smart beauty devices like the HiMirror, which is an internet-connected mirror that analyzes your skin, took a central spot in the retail front. Talk of tech-infused beauty products has spiked in recent months as brands like Kohler, CoverGirl, Sephora and Shiseido, to name a few, have turned to tech for help personalizing offerings. As the lines between online and offline dissolve in retail, beauty players are angling to boost sales by engaging consumers in more dynamic ways.

"Technology is enabling beauty brands to gauge their consumers... in a reality that has never been experienced," Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded, told Circa. "Brands who are embracing [tech] are finding that they can virtually transplant their customers from their own homes into their brand experiences, and therefore connect with them more easily."

In addition to analyzing your skin, HiMirror helps you track your skincare goals and lets you see whether that really expensive face cream is actually working. It also gives you personalized recommendations on the types of products you should consider. Beyond skincare, users can also try on makeup virtually, watch makeup tutorials, check the weather and skim the news on HiMirror.

"You can use it as a regular mirror; it has really nice makeup lights, but most importantly, it's a skin analyzer," Phair Tsai, senior marketing manager for HiMirror, told Circa. She said that based on their research developing the device, they've found that "different brands are making different claims" about different products, "but there's no scientific or quantitative facts to verify whether a product is working or not." HiMirror's goal is to give consumers product transparency, "so you can be the judge."

Brushing up on beauty's growth

The global beauty and cosmetics market is expected to topple $675 billion by 2020, up from $460 billion in 2014, according to a report by Research and Markets. Of the areas driving the sector's growth, skin care leads the pack. Consumers' shift to online shopping has also helped propel the market's expansion.

The global beauty market is expected to surge $675 billion by 2020, according to Research and Markets. (Circa)

As the market becomes more saturated, more brands are looking to tech innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to lure in customers and stay competitive against the likes of Amazon. "One of the most important things to think about as a consumer, as well as a brand, is how data impacts the buying decision," Leinbach Reyhle said. "This opens up a lot of opportunity for brands... because it merges the consumer experience from online and offline."

Customers can now engage with brands, in more entertaining ways, and test out new products – all from the comfort of their vanities. Through smart mirrors, chatbots and other AI-powered apps, brands can "collect data they ultimately can apply into action," she said. Virtual reality experiences will in theory, Leinbach Reyhle explains, drive consumers to purchase, let's say, a mascara tube that's just a smidge pricier than they would have opted for otherwise.

For customers reluctant to try out these intelligent self-care devices over privacy concerns, HiMirror's model stores your data locally – not in their cloud server. That is, unless you elect to share your images and information with HiMirror. "Unless you opt for synchronizing the data to your phone, then the images will be synchronized to our cloud," Tsai said.

Speaking of Amazon...

Like many products at CES, HiMirror is Amazon Alexa-enabled.

"With the Alexa-enabled feature, you will be able to use HiMirror [for] searches, or to call Uber, stream music that you like though the Amazon Service. You can also order products through Amazon Alexa," HiMirror's Tsai said. While you can't buy products just yet on HiMirror, you can place orders through Alexa. Amazon, by the way, has been rumored to be planning a move into beauty soon.

New research from Capgemini predicts voice assistants will revolutionize the e-commerce shopping experience. (Circa)

And all the hype around voice assistants like Alexa, Google's Home Assistant and Apple's Siri, comes seemingly at the right time: new information indicates voice assistants are taking the lead in how we shop over websites and apps. A fresh survey from Capgemini's Digital Transformation Institute found that in the next 3 years, 40 percent of consumers will be using voice assistants.

According to the Capgemini report, "Voice assistant users are currently spending 3 percent of their total consumer expenditure via voice assistants, but this is expected to increase to 18 percent in the next three years, reducing share of physical stores (45 percent) and websites (37 percent)."

But smart mirrors aren't just for women...

"Technology is driving action to commerce, and ultimately that's the goal," Retail Minded's Leinbach Reyhle said. If smart beauty and health devices can help drive dollars into a brand's business, they'll jump in. Hence, the varoius companies rushing to make a splash in the connected device sector.

For example, Philips Norelco also showcased a smart mirror at CES, which is not yet on the market. At the show, a spokesperson demonstrated how their mirror will be able to "connect all your daily routines" by tapping into your other Philips smart devices, such as your connected toothbrush and razor. Philips' mirror will let you monitor your daily vitals – everything from weight and blood pressure to skin hydration. When it hits the shelves, it'll also be able to give you feedback on your tooth-brushing technique and how you can reduce irritation when you shave.

By connecting their beard app, you can also see what style facial hair you ought to rock – or not.

"We have everything from beards and various mustache styles," the spokesperson said, adding that "the whole idea is to integrate all of your daily care routines, and make it so rather than just a series of unconscious tasks, you're consciously going through your routine."

What's in the pipeline for HiMirror, specifically?

Right now, they're looking to augment their e-commerce game, so users can shop directly through HiMirror's app. In the long run, Tsai said, "We're hoping this is something that can be applied to clinical practice, so you can do a virtual consultation with your doctor."

For now, you can be your own beauty consultant.

See more related stories from Circa:
Smart scents? This app-connected gadget lets you fine-tune the smell of your home
Here's how grocery startup Farmstead is using AI to rethink farm-to-table
This couple is a big part of why the US is suddenly obsessed with Korean beauty products

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