This could be how the IoT (Internet of Things) makes its first big splash into women’s personal skincare. Japanese skincare company Shiseido recently ventured into the highly competitive arena of personalized skin moisturizer and serum. Called Optune, their new product is an Internet of Things smart appliance system that combines an AI-driven app and a product dispenser. Optune marks a milestone for the skincare industry, as it’s one of the first IoT-enhanced consumer products on the market today.

Following a year in beta testing, Shiseido debuted Optune last week. Optune is unique in that it affords users with a highly personalized skincare system, comprised of several features.

How Optune Works

Optune provides the user with a twice-daily skin assessment, and adjusts the user’s beauty regimen accordingly. It first collects user data via its iPhone-exclusive app that harnesses the phone’s selfie camera. AI then analyzes the user’s face and sends the data to the Optune moisturizer and serum dispenser. The Optune dispenser provides the optimum mix of serum and moisturizer to suit the user’s needs, after the AI has assessed several relevant factors such as recorded daily skin conditions, living environments, weather and even the user’s mood. Shiseido claims that Optune’s app has identified 80,000 skincare patterns, and that the Optune AI-driven dispenser can create 1,000 different combinations of serum and moisturizer to provide the most suitable regimen for its user. Optune is marketed as a package that comes with a monthly subscription fee of 10,000 Yen (about $92), along with its cylindrical appliance that holds five “Optimum Shot” serum cartridges.

This diagram shows how Shiseido’s Optune works as an Internet of Things-driven system. An app takes images of the user on their iPhone, assessing factors like the user’s mood, ambient temperature, their menstrual cycle, hours of sleep, etc. which are then sent to a server and analyzed by an AI algorithm. The data is used as the basis for dispensing the optimized combination of moisturizer and serum, a process Optune does twice a day for the user (


It works while you sleep

Optune also includes a “sleep measurement function” on its that detects the user’s movements during sleep to take note of any “biological rhythm disruptions” the user may experience. This is another factor that’s analyzed by the Optune dispenser to further optimize the next-day skin care regimen. Other data that Optune takes into account are the user’s mood, pollen levels in the air, humidity, menstrual cycle and temperature.

Optune not the only one

In 2017, Shiseido acquired two virtual makeup startups, MATCHCo and Giaran Inc. MATCHCo specialized in creating apps that personalized applying foundation for users with a smartphone, and Giaran utilized AI to give brands a “virtual makeup test” by combining augmented reality, big data and deep learning to show possible results to consumers. While Optune’s use of AI tech is novel, the app was based on the more commonly used “virtual makeover” augmented reality apps, such as the face filters on Snapchat and Instagram.

Shiseido isn’t the first skincare company to utilize AI and AR, as P&G’s Olay brand has already released its own AI-driven “Skin Advisor”. At the same year that Shiseido made these AI startup acquisitions, L‘Oreal bought ModiFace, another startup that uses AI and AR tech to allow consumers to virtually sample L’Oreal’s makeup and hair coloring products. ModiFace also allows users to see what their chosen makeup and hair colors would look like via live video.

Implications for Marketers

Applying the Internet of Things to one of Shiseido’s products, and their acquisition of AI startups shows that AI and IoT tech aren’t passing fads in the skin care industry. Other major companies like L’Oreal and Olay also invested in and applied similar tech for their beauty products, so expect other players to follow suit. These cases prove that consumers’ appetite for hyper-personalization is on the rise. AI, AR and IoT are tools worth considering for marketers out to make their brands more innovative and stand out in the marketplace.

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What do you think of Shiseido’s use of IoT tech in Optune? Do you think this sort of tech can be applied in your company’s product or products? Where do you see the Internet of Things being applied to next? Let us know in the comments!

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