L’Oreal’s smart brush ‘listens’ to hair, recommends luxury treatments

Lucy Handley, special to CNBC

Beauty giant L'Oreal has launched a "smart" internet-connected hairbrush that analyzes users' hair type and recommends products accordingly.

Sensors on the hairbrush count strokes, determine whether the hair is dry or wet and analyze the force used when brushing. It even includes a microphone that listens to the sound of hair brushing, to provide "insights into manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage," L'Oreal said in a statement on its website.

The brush will send information via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to a mobile app, and will also take into account humidity, temperature and wind, and will produce a quality score, ranking hair for damage, breakage, tangling and dryness. It will then provide hair tips and recommend L'Oreal's Kérastase products.

The French cosmetics group claims the device – known as the Kérastase Hair Coach Powered by Withings - is "the world's first-ever smart hairbrush." It was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week and will be available in salons and online for under $200 from mid-2017. Technology company Withings makes health products including activity and sleep trackers, air quality monitors and wireless blood pressure monitors. It was bought by Nokia in May 2016 for $191 million.

"Technology is transforming consumers' daily beauty routines, and smart devices have huge potential to impact how we care for our hair and skin," said Guive Balooch, global vice president of L'Oréal's Research and Innovation Technology Incubator.

"By using connected technologies to upgrade the hairbrush — something the average consumer uses every day — Withings and Kérastase have reinvented what a person's relationship with their hair can look like and are showing how connected devices can revolutionize the beauty industry."

The connected brush is part of the "Internet of Things" trend, where products are able to communicate with each other, with companies and with consumers via their smartphones. IoT products and services attracted nearly $7.5 billion in investment between 2010 and 2015 according to analysis by CB Insights.

Kérastase is one of L'Oreal's premium hair care brands, where a "bain volumifique" shampoo costs $41 and an "elixir ultime" hair mask retails for $65 via its website.

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