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How does a manicure robot work in an industry full of human nail technicians?

After months without the noise of strangers, many stepped into the nail salon sound bath: the gentle breeze of the drying fans, the satisfying whip of the nail clipper, no familiar hints of “choose your color” in English. . But this summer, at a storefront in San Francisco, a bustling saloon sound was described by a San Francisco reporter as an “inkjet printer whistle”, printing manicure robot.

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The machine behind the Chirp is the nail painting robot, which is only a nail clockwork, slightly smaller than the dorm-room mini-fridge, and it began accepting manicure appointments in June. The client straps, finger to finger, and the robot’s mechanical brush fill in the concentric circles of the polish. Your 10 nails will be painted in about 10 minutes. This is not the only manicure at work: companies like Nimble (at-home robot) and Corel (still a prototype) also aim to gain a foothold in the market. So, experts at Socialtomatoes.com got the opinion of inventors and various beauty experts on manicure robots.

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“Our goal is an alternative to nail treatments,” Clockwork founder Renuka Apte told me. “Before Covid, we started working for this company in late 2018 because we really believed that people wanted the ‘in-and-out option”. Apte finds it “convenient” to have clockwork available one day in places such as corporate buildings, retail stores, and airports. The fast, no-frills service is undoubtedly attractive to those with less time and money (each manicure costs just $ 8). According to the company, appointments have been booked until July.

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Still, do not expect these machines to ever replace traditional nail salons. The clockwork robot does not paint, cut, buff, file, or topcoat. And, according to Apte, they have no plans to offer a wide range of services such as deep cleaning, acrylics, massage. “Think of us as a fast-casual restaurant and a sit-down restaurant as a nail salon,” Apte said. “They each have their place in people’s lives.”

Although she was not surprised about the timing of the clockwork launch, Dong Nguyen, program and retraining manager at California Healthy Nail Salon, agreed that robots have the opportunity: “We hope robots take over the industry and manage workers. Don’t do jobs.”

And this is good news for nail salon workers who went through a terrible year before plugging ClotWorks out of San Francisco into the toilet. Last year, Nail workers criticized Governor Gavin Newsum. Because he alleged that the first community spread of COVID-19 in California occurred in a nail salon. He later apologized, but as Nguyen told me, “[the industry’s reputation] has already been damaged.”

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Across the state since the outbreak, nail workers have faced closures and re-opening roller coasters. Of the nearly 100,000 licensed manicurists in California, 91 percent had to apply for unemployment. According to a US June 2020 report from the California Healthy Nail Salon Cooperative and UCLA Labor Center.

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Even now, for the most part, nail salons have begun to reopen. Neuen points out, with some manicurists beginning to rebuild the savings lost during debt or the epidemic. Add to that “the rise of anti-Asian hatred and violence, and people feel that their businesses are also losing out because customers are reluctant to communicate with Asians,” she said.

During pandemic salon closures, I found that even the most artistically painted nails have roughly adhered to a rough corner. The meditation of the spa manicure has something to say for the relaxing experience. “Manicure is an intimate experience. You’ll be shaking hands with someone,” said Amy Ling Lin, founder of the Sunday Nail Studio in New York City. “It’s time to let someone else take care of you. It’s more of an affordable luxury than going to a restaurant rather than cooking at home.”

Manicure Robots are nice additions to the manicure, but sometimes there is no substitute for the original thing.

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