Connected hairbrush: A must-have or just more useless ‘stuff’?

L'Oreal Hair CoachWhat’s the one ‘connected’ item you feel your really can’t do without? For many of us it’s obviously not a smartwatch. Despite the entire industry launching one (New Balance and Emporio Armani are the latest), consumers are relatively unconvinced about the need for something that can do not much more than their smartphone can do.

Is it a home hub? Maybe. Amazon’s Echo devices were top sellers this Christmas and Asus’s Zenbo cute home hub robot’s first batch sold out in five minutes this week.

We know it definitely isn’t a pair of jeans with LED lights or a jacket with a contactless payment card. These things may exist but they’ve not turned out to be wearable tech’s Next Big Thing as (some) people expected just a few years ago.

So is it… a hairbrush? L’Oréal seems to think so and I’m sure we’ve all sat in front of a mirror longing for a brush that did more than smooth and detangle our hair, longing for one that could connect to the internet so that we can… well, exactly what can it do?

The new brush (unveiled at CES, of course) is actually a JV between Withings and L’Oréal via its high-end Kérastase haircare line.

Called the Kérastase Hair Coach, it won a CES innovation award for wearables, despite not actually being a wearable.

It’s designed to “reinvent what a person’s relationship with their hair can look like” and aims to prevent the too-forceful brushing of our hair that can damage its fragile strands.

As the user starts to brush, the device begins to collect data with an in-built microphone and conductivity sensors detecting “manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage” as well as whether your hair is wet or dry.

It can decide whether you’re brushing the right way or the wrong way and offers up a “complete hair diagnosis without leaving the home”.

All the data whizzes back to a mobile app via wifi or Bluetooth and hooks up with weather reports to advise you about humidity and temperature. The end result is meant to be a personalised haircare routine.

Tech is clearly having a big impact on the hair tools sector and maybe L’Oréal has been keeping an eye on just how well Dyson’s rethinking of the hairdryer went this Christmas with John Lewis saying the Dyson was a top seller despite its £299 price tag.

But I’m not convinced about this one. At around $200 it’s a big investment. We’ll just have to say whether it takes off. At least we shouldn’t be seeing millions of connected brushes being delivered by Amazon drone. As it’s from Kérastase, I assume it’s for salon sale only, which does at least put a bit of personal contact back into the picture.

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