Eye on AI - May 14th, 2021
Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!
This week, we’ll be looking at a Forbes article that addresses new and future applications of the digital nose (one of our favorite topics here at Aigora), then transition to Amazon’s announcement of its new high-tech beauty salon and its potential implications for salon industry as a whole.
Will Smell AI Revolutionize Commerce? ‘Outlook Good,’ Says Magic 8 Ball
Let’s begin by looking at a Forbes article by Bernard Marr, titled “Artificial Intelligence Is Developing A Sense Of Smell: What Could A Digital Nose Mean In Practice?”, that looks at business applications of olfaction technology and the future of fragrance tech.
“Digital olfaction mimics the way humans smell by capturing odor signatures using biosensors, then using software solutions to analyze and display the odor data,” writes Marr. “Artificial Intelligence (AI) interprets the signatures and classifies them based on a database of previously collected smells.... Odor analytics can help companies do things like:... predict when maintenance needs to be done in industrial or automotive equipment; automatically detect food spoilage in consumer appliances; reject or approve raw material supply; [and more].”
Back in March 2020, we covered a study that had begun developing algorithms that mimicked the olfactory bulb in the mammalian brain in mice. Using similar techniques, researchers now can mimic the smell capabilities of almost any animal with smell-senses that far exceed that of humans. That means more smells in the database, and more possibilities for what AI can do with smell sensing and identification. That means broader applications of smell tech.
In the future, notes Marr, researchers may begin creating digital odor libraries that companies can utilize for their specific needs. As smell technologies capabilities develop further, there may come a time when customers are able to use AI to recognize things like food health, vehicular issues, and even physical health (identifying cancer by the smell of your breath, for instance) from home using smartphone apps.
Amazon Breaks into Beauty with London AR Mirror Salon
Shifting gears, let’s take a look at BBC’s article “Amazon is opening a hair salon in London”, which highlights Amazon’s surprising entry into the beauty industry with the announcement of their new high-tech beauty salon.
“We have designed this salon for customers to come and experience some of the best technology, haircare products and stylists in the industry,” says UK manager at Amazon John Boumphrey. “We want this unique venue to bring us one step closer to customers and it will be a place where we can collaborate with the industry and test new technologies.”
The salon will feature, among other things, augmented reality mirrors for customers to test different colors and styles before hair treatments. Amazon says it currently has no current plans to expand the ‘experimental’ salon, but I see plenty of potential here. AR apps on smartphones already allow users to try out new hair colors, glasses frames, makeup applications, etc. AR mirrors in salons seem a natural progression. They’ll undoubtedly help reduce those dreaded ‘it looked good in the magazine but looks terrible on me’ salon experiments. Furthermore, they’ll give customers more confidence in trying new styles and color patterns, which should lead to more revenue. But I wonder: is Amazon angling to re-imagine the beauty salon on its own terms, displacing popular salon chains like SuperCuts, or create new beauty tech to distribute?
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