When the French health tech company Withings was purchased by Finnish communications giant Nokia last year, the Nokia president Ramzi Haidamus stated that Withings would be running the entire digital health business. Withings’ penchant for collaborating with established brand names has served it well in the past and with the announcement of a new product due in Fall 2017, it looks like the inclination toward collaboration continues. Withings (and therefore Nokia) is getting into the hair care and hair health business.
According to Statistica, global hair care business totaled $83.1 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow approximately 2 percent per year at least until 2021 when the global business is expected to be $94.5 billion. Hair care is very big business, and it’s not just about appearance and style, but also hair health. The Withings Hair Coach resulted from a collaboration between Withings, which brought its biomedical sensors and app connectivity to the table, and Kérastase and L’Oréal, two other French firms with globally established brands associated with hair care expertise. Kérastase is known for its luxury hair treatments and L’Oréal for its skin care, makeup, and hair care products.
The Hair Coach concept combines a high density, professional-grade boar and nylon bristle brush with integrated sensors. The sensors detect when the brush is being used and automatically collects data. When you are done brushing your hair the data is sent to an associated iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth Low-Energy or Wi-Fi. The app will perform hair health analysis and provide brushing experience feedback. The brush senses hair dryness to measure elasticity, hair cuticle damage to ensure moisture retention and hair breakage, and detects tangling to optimize sebum distribution and avoid tangles. With data gathered on brushing force and rhythm, gesture analysis, and stroke count, the app can provide suggestions on how to avoid damage and improve hair quality by improving brushing habits.