The world of skincare tech is awash with snake oil products that promise to clear your skin: Chunky plastic masks that make you sweat or try to vibrate the dirt right out of your pores; face "belts" that lift the wrinkles right off your face. They're usually more commonly found at the drug store than at stores like Sephora — devoid of any recognisable brand name. Now, Samsung is getting in on the face care act at CES 2017, announcing two new products that promise to improve your face with a mix of cameras, LEDS and nanotechnology.
It'd be a whole new world of wow if everything about Samsung's new products didn't feel so familiar to anyone who has seen the many skincare gadgets from Japan Trend Shop. We're sceptical that either of Samsung's new gadgets would work, but at least the science behind Samsung's Lumini sounds a little more solid. It's a pink and white camera that you use to shoot pictures of your skin. An app on your phone then judges your exfoliating habits. That's pretty difficult to screw up.
In addition to computers assessing your skincare regime, Lumini goes the extra mile and lets a remote dermatologist assess your skincare regime, too. So you wouldn't have to use your phone to take a pic of that thing on your nose and ask your doc if it looked infected. Instead you could ask some phantom doctor that Samsung connects you to.
S-Skin, Samsung's other skincare device, feels a little less useful, which is incredible considering Lumini's most useful aspect is its ability to photograph your face. S-Skin is actually a whole super techie skincare regime that involves patches, a device and your Samsung phone. It theoretically possesses abilities that read like a greatest hits of rubbish skincare products.
The patches have "microneedles" that dig into your flesh and then dissolve, ostensibly taking excess sebum with them. The patches also have NFC chips, so they can communicate with the main device and your phone to "customise" your face needle experience. And the main device, besides possessing a NFC chip reader and a camera for sweet Lumini like face scans, also has a disco show of LEDs inside that are supposed to magically cure your skin of all its ailments. Light therapy for skin conditions it a very real scientific phenomenon, but the lights used tend to use spectra of lights less visible to the human eye.
Apart from some breathless anecdotes from beauty magazines, multicoloured LEDs have no real proven ability to improve your skin. Which makes sense, because if they could then Philips could just stop marketing its Hue smart LEDs for the house and start selling them for your face.
Samsung will be showing off both the Lumini and S-Skin at CES in January, maybe even in Samsung's booth instead of in the hall full of future Kickstarter failures where these things sound like they belong. Both devices come from Samsung's internal incubator program, C-Labs. Previous devices out of C-Labs were launched not through Samsung, but via Kickstarter. While that's usually a recipe for late shipping dates and crappy devices, maybe the Samsung prestige will rub off on this potential junkware.
But don't get too excited about the tech coming to Australia and making your skin glow radiantly. While the ladies in the videos are English-speaking white women, all the sweet skin-related apps on their phones are in Korean. Better brush up on your Hangul if you want to take advantage.