Nokia (News - Alert), which was once solely known for its practically indestructible mobile phones, has widened its reach into several different markets. The company is strongly focused on 5G and next generation communications, but has also branched out into the smartphone and wearable markets.
The company’s interest in wearables piqued after it acquired Withings, a French digital startup that makes Internet-connected thermometers, heart rate and blood pressure monitors, weighing scales, fitness trackers, monitors and home security systems. In fact, after acquiring Withings, Nokia came out with its new Withings Steel HR, which is a connected health watch that offers fully-featured activity tracking, heart rate monitoring and smartphone notifications.
After finding success with the watch, Nokia is now diving even deeper into digital health tech with its new smart hairbrush, called Hair Coach. The product was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and received mixed reviews. Granted, these reviews are to be expected: do we really need a smart hairbrush? When I first heard about it, I wasn’t even sure what features could make a hairbrush “smart.” However, once Nokia explained the concept, skeptics like me came fully on board with the idea.
As it turns out, this brush may actually be a dream come true for those of us with less than fantastic hair. The Hair Coach is equipped with a microphone that “listens” for dryness and sensors that analyze brushing and hair quality. The brush sends the collected data to a smartphone app via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and users can then go look at recommendations about brushing technique and new products to try.
In all honestly, we probably shouldn’t be surprised by this new product. Thanks to the IoT, everything from your car to your kitchen is becoming connected, so a connected hairbrush shouldn’t seem like that much of a stretch. This is especially true, given that Withings is known for enhancing everyday products. Withings chief executive, Cedric Hutchings, who took over the Nokia dedicated health tech department after the acquisition, said, “At Withings we've always been interested in routine and home environment. Our products are about generating new insights without having to change the routine.”
The Hair Coach is mainly consumer-based, but, according to Aukland Now, Nokia is looking to bring its devices to healthcare. Hutchings has stated that the company is looking into AI and analytics in the hopes of generating insight that could be valuable to healthcare. For instance, he would like to create a system that collects patient data from sensors, analyzes it for changes or abnormalities, and then alerts medical professionals if need be.
Nokia’s moves into digital health tech could be game-changing and a major step toward solving the healthcare crisis in the U.S. For now, though, the company is making some exciting strides in next generation hair care, one hairbrush at a time.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi