L'Oréal is leading the charge in developing advanced makeup products for people with disabilities. A decade ago, makeup products for people of color were scarce, and today, people with limited fine motor skills face a similar sense of exclusion when browsing the cosmetics aisle. However, L'Oréal's technology incubator has developed a handheld, computerized makeup applicator called Hapta, designed for people with limited hand and arm mobility. The device, named after haptic technology used in smartphones and adaptive devices for people with disabilities, is a miniature robotic arm that requires lots of machine learning and complicated algorithms. The product is expected to be available in US stores at the end of this year and globally next year.
The makeup industry is approaching a revolution in technology that could help many people with disabilities, according to Guive Balooch, the global chief of L'Oréal's technology incubator. Makeup applicators for people with disabilities do exist, but most of these products have been developed by startups or small businesses, not by a major cosmetics company. Hapta has received positive feedback from testers with cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and people affected by a stroke. They now feel they can be part of the industry and apply makeup on their own.
Approximately 10 million Americans have essential tremor, nearly 1 million people in the US have Parkinson's disease, and some 764,000 Americans have at least one symptom of cerebral palsy. Both Parkinson's and cerebral palsy can affect hand and arm mobility. Hapta provides a much-needed solution for these individuals to be able to do daily tasks with confidence. L'Oréal engineers have been working to make the company's packaging easier to open for people with disabilities and expanding the use of QR codes on its products to help people with limited visibility learn more about an item.
L'Oréal began developing Hapta about a year ago, after Guive Balooch met with Anupam Pathak, the CEO of Liftware, a startup that created high-tech eating utensils for people with a tremor or limited hand or arm mobility. Pathak and Balooch started talking about how Liftware users asked whether the company could create tools for applying makeup. Hapta was codesigned with people with cerebral palsy, people with Parkinson's, and experts in the field. The device is set to be compatible only with Lancôme lipsticks for now, but L'Oréal plans to create fittings that would make the device adaptable with other lipsticks.
L'Oréal's move to create more advanced products for people with disabilities in beauty is long overdue, said Balooch. He hopes that Hapta will inspire the industry to develop more inclusive products. L'Oréal's sense of purpose and drive around inclusion is deeply linked to the company's mission. Hapta is not just something that people with disabilities deserve, but it is also a much-needed solution for individuals who face daily challenges due to motor-skills or hand-mobility impairments. It is time for this type of technology, and L'Oréal is leading the way.
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