A hardware company called Clockwork has created an autonomous nail painting robot, and it’s going to start offering its services at New York’s Rockefeller Center starting tomorrow, October 5. Clockwork says that tenants of the iconic building will be able to get their nails painted in under 10 minutes for $10.
Automation — You might wonder how well the job will be performed. One area where robotics have struggled has been in areas where dexterity is key, and nail painting requires a lot of precision. Robots don’t fold clothes because the difference between picking up a nightgown versus unraveling a pair of crumpled jeans is a calculation that requires a lot of computing and a gentle touch.
You’d think painting nails of irregular shapes would be similarly difficult. Clockwork claims that it pulls off the job using a combination of 3D cameras and an Nvidia CUDA GPU to identify the shape of each nail with “sub millimeter accuracy,” and then can paint the nails accurately without human intervention. A promotional video shows a machine reminiscent of a 3D printer, which moves side to side in precise motions as it releases the nail paint.
Cheap, efficient — It’s actually a pretty cool idea. You may not be able to get super intricate designs right now — Clockwork will offer just 10 simple color options — but for the price, you’re getting a super quick paint job that looks from the video to be high-quality. Maybe you’re about to go into a meeting, or hit the club, and don’t have the time to schedule an appointment at a salon.
With Clockwork you could get a quick job and be on your way. It’s like other robotic systems — it might only be able to do very limited tasks (no fake nails, careful manicures, or nail art here), but it can do them quickly and efficiently. When you want something more bespoke, you go to an actual artist. Similarly, you can use a Keurig or Nespresso to get a good enough cup of coffee, but a human barista offers something different.
Clockwork has raised more than $6 million to introduce these express beauty robots, and the company envisions its systems showing up in airports, retail stores, and other locations.