CES 2020: playing catch up?

CES 2020: playing catch up?

It’s 2020 – that decade long hailed as ‘the future’ and yet we’re still not whizzing about on hover boards and robots don’t walk among us. Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of Sci-Fi films but for those who imagined a Minority Report-style tech takeover would be here by now, the New Year will have come as a bit of a blow.

And perhaps CES 2020 suffered a little from its close proximity to the turn of the decade when comparisons would inevitably be drawn between what we thought would happen and what has. Because, contrary to Discover magazine’s predictions back in 2000, we haven’t all got automated cars and our refrigerators don’t tell us what to cook. OK, so these things do actually exist but mainstream they are not.

For while tech has indeed advanced, let’s just say the human has remained disappointingly slow to process all this newness. And, from the innovations presented at CES this year, it looks like 2020 will be the year where the beauty tech industry waits for the consumer to catch up. There was tweaking, refining and improving a-plenty as the innovation we’ve seen over the last five years (AI, 3D printing and smart devices) was harnessed to bring to life devices that could become the ‘must-have’ of tomorrow.

Indeed, bespoke was the watch word among the beauty tech camp – from 3D printed masks on demand to L’Oréal’s Perso, an at-home device that assesses skin and environmental conditions and then creates and dispenses bespoke single-dose skin care.

And it wasn’t just skin care – both P&G and Colgate debuted new Smart brushes purporting to personalise our oral hygiene routines. Oral-B iO Series 9, an electric toothbrush said to ‘reimagine brushing from the inside out’ thanks to micro-vibrating bristles and a round head powered by a first-of-its-kind smooth magnetic drive system while Colgate’s Plaqless Pro is said to be able to detect biofilm build up and coach the user in real time for precision brushing.

Meanwhile, in the hair care category, Samsung’s in-house employee innovation incubator, C-Lab, showed Becon, a device that tracks scalp health, recommending products to help reverse conditions such as dandruff and former Foreo CEO, Paul Peros, ushered in Reduit, a hair care delivery device that optimises product delivery.

What there was no mention of in the press coverage or, indeed, the press releases from the show was the curious fact that many of these ‘devices of the future’ rely on single-use pods and cartridges. That tomorrow’s beauty tech hasn’t been optimised from a sustainability perspective makes it seem outdated already. There’s certainly some catching up to be done.