The sticker-style devices are no bigger than a quarter and can manage 100 KB of data. And the beauty brand is using that capacity not only to research and develop more specialized products but also—in the very near future—to engage with consumers on a cellular level.
The sensors can be worn while gathering data for weeks. They are quite thin and allow some air to circulate to the skin. Circuitry consists of conductive metal fibers that are woven among and embedded in silicon nanoribbons, explains Alexandra Ossola in a popsci.com article about the devices.
The data gets sent via Bluetooth to a nearby smart phone or computer, according to John Rogers, lead engineer of the team responsible for these electronics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The team is working closely with pros at L’Oreal to create wearables that the beauty brand and its consumers can truly profit from. “Flexible electronics will allow consumers to integrate the wearable on any part of their body, without feeling anything,” says Guive Balooch, the vice president of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator, who is working with the university’s engineers.
The company is using wearable electronic sensors in its R&D to gather detailed data about skin hydration levels, skin temperature and blood flow to the skin.
“These devices help researchers look at efficacies of lotions, giving them the ability to make long-lasting improvements in how they hydrate the skin,” Rogers tells popsci.com.
The tech is proprietary to the University of Illinois and the expertise of personal care scientists needed to inform device development is coming from L’Oreal. The school and the company plan to file jointly for patents on the devices.
In stores soon
For consumers the flexible electronic stickers will be used briefly to get information on facial skin and what’s needed for that day’s care routine. They could also be applied in more discrete locations to gather information about a consumer’s environmental challenges, like pollution and UV exposure.
With this information L’Oreal could recommend optimal personal care and cosmetics products and practices. “L’Oreal won’t say exactly when they’re planning to start selling these devices, but it may be as soon as the next year,” reports Ossola.