The beauty industry generates annual sales of U$ 500 billion and also millions of jobs. If we refer to the crisis of 2008 and 2009, in general terms we can say that sales decreased slightly and were recovered in 2010. Our industry has always been resilient in the face of crises.
McKinsey & Company published an interesting article on May 5 on the economic projections in our industry due to the pandemic. We have all experienced in the first and second quarters of this year a decrease in sales and store closings in our countries and the projection is that the market may decrease 35% only in the United States, estimating a significant sustained recovery in Q1 2022.
The term haptic refers to the science of touch, as an analogy with acoustics (hearing) and optics (sight). It covers the study of contact behavior and sensations. A pre Covid-19 marketsandmarkets report indicates that the market value of haptic technology that includes categories such as components (actuators, drivers & controllers), feedback (touch, force), application (automotive & transportation, electronics, health, games, engineering, education & research), among others, has a projected value of U $ 19.55 billion for 2022 and a CAGR of 16.20%, between 2016 and 2022.
The recovery of the cosmetic industry considers two key aspects: where and how beauty products are sold and what is bought. Consumer habits and trends are changing, such as the strong increase in online commerce, the new home-office life, and the concepts of self-care and DIY. How can we provide new consumer experiences in the face of these changes? It is precisely here, where haptics represents an opportunity for our industry. Below, we will look at some market examples that are driving this trend and that are also inspiring the beauty industry.
Virtual sense of touch: One of the great advances that we will see in our industry is on how to use and apply the fundamentals of haptics to enhance the sensory experience of products. Cosmetic formulators know that perception and efficacy go together and a formulation can therefore change skin surface properties such as hydration, smoothness and roughness.
Virtual reality focuses on sight and sound, but there are few technologies related to touch. Recently researchers at Northwestern University created a “flexible haptic skin” that hopes to provide a virtual sense of touch similar to human touch. The study was published in the Nature magazine in November 2019. It will have applications for social interactions via computerized systems, in medicine for rehabilitation protocols, games and entertainment and, of course, in the beauty industry.
The haptic perception system includes the receptors located throughout the body and the advances are surprising because it is now possible to develop virtual haptic sensations. Therefore, haptics will play an important role by bringing tactile sensations to the consumer selection process (even when the consumer is not in the store or in front of the product). The haptic devices will have sensors that will provide tactile experiences that will be related to the sensations on the skin, when applying a product. Let’s imagine that consumers can virtually feel the level of friction from a scrub or the smoothness of a moisturizer in their homes.
Digital touch: How to touch and feel objects that do not exist? Mar González Franco, a researcher at Microsoft Research, is working on a project to provide tactile sensations in virtual reality. This group has developed the prototype of an accessory, without moving parts, that allows sensations such as pressure and texture of objects touched within virtual reality, to be felt on the fingers of the hand, called Torc, Thanks to haptics, it is possible to replicate the elasticity of objects when they are held by hand. The sensations are transmitted to three fingers, which is enough to create a real illusion. Torc uses a system of tactile and force sensors to detect the position of a moving thumb, and two dual actuators that vibrate on two other fingers to simulate textures, which don’t really exist. Let’s imagine that, in our community’s near future, we will be able to use virtual reality to enter the cosmetic store of our choice and touch and experience different textures… virtually.
Haptx: This is a haptic glove that provides 130 feedback points to a person’s hand to feel the shape, texture, and movement of objects. Currently, it has application with flight simulators and in the automotive industry.
Ultraleap: Thanks to tactile sensations produced with ultrasound, it is also possible to experience textures. It has software that tracks hand movements and then sends ultrasound waves in the moment the virtual object is touched. In the future, ultrasound will also allow us to experience virtually different kinds of cosmetic textures.
Virtual body: Actronika is a Parisian startup specialized in haptic technology who has designed a “haptic vest”, presented at CES2020, which allows the user to feel the interactions of the virtual world such as fire, wind, blows and heartbeat. Will we see cosmetic applications for body care in the future? Until then, check out the body care products from exhibitors at in-cosmetics Latin America.
Haptic devices: Haptic devices allow you to design in 3D, optimize scientific and medical simulations, and increase productivity through interactive learning. Touch is a motorized device that applies force feedback to the user’s hand, allowing them to feel virtual objects and produce real tactile sensations as the user manipulates 3D objects on the screen.
Haptic gloves: With these gloves it will be possible to feel textures and shapes of virtual objects. They were created to contribute to the processes of medical rehabilitation. It is a new element developed by Teslasuit that will allow bringing digital experiences closer to sensory experiences. Users will be able to perceive textures and virtual shapes. They combine various technologies in order to create the impression of touching and holding digital objects.
Mantis: This is a robotic haptic arm that provides haptic feedback and simulates the sense of touch. This device allows people to touch and feel 3D objects, adding more depth to the virtual reality experience.
Haptic Beauty… We are facing a new definition of beauty. Virtual reality began with vision and acoustic applications and its development will increase with the participation of the other senses as the investigations progress. The CosmeticDesign website published an article on May 22 stating that haptics will also have applications in perfume packaging personalization.
The next sense to be developed for VR is touch, and then there will be taste and smell. When that happens, we will feel like protagonists of Ready Player One. Haptic technology and new findings in biology of touch will partly guide cosmetic innovation for years to come.
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