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Editor's pick product technology

L’Oréal deepens scientific focus on personalization with uBiome partnership

L’Oréal has announced a partnership with microbial genomics company, uBiome, to deepen its research into the skin’s bacterial ecosystem, in order to help inform future product development.

Unveiled at this year’s SXSW festival taking place in Austin, Texas, the partnership aims to arm L’Oréal’s tech incubator team with the tools to better understand the trillions of bacterias that live in the microorganisms that make up a person’s body – known as the microbiome – and provide an important barrier to their skin.

“When it comes to skincare, people often audition product after product to determine what works for their unique skin. At L’Oréal, our goal is to advance scientific research and leverage new technologies to change this relationship, by allowing deeper levels of personalization,” said Guive Balooch, VP of L’Oréal’s technology incubator.

“The microbiome has major implications for skin’s overall appearance and health. With the global reach of uBiome’s community of citizen scientists, our two companies will be able to extend our respective research in this space, and better understand the interplay between bacterial diversity and skin health.”

L’Oréal’s research into the skin’s microbiome started over a decade ago, and findings include the link between the microbiome, skin barrier function and immune responses as well as the effect of bacteria on ageing skin. This has helped inform many new products for the beauty group, including brands La Roche-Posay and Vichy.

“A major finding from our research shows that skin disorders, much like gut ones, are often linked to a problem of microbial imbalance. Good proportions of each microorganism are key to ensuring skin health,” says Luc Aguillar, a research director at L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation division.

The human skin, which is the body’s largest organ, is home to roughly 1,000 species of bacteria, which can not only affect skin health and appearance, but contribute to common skin concerns such as acne, eczema and rosacea as well as body odor and the aforementioned ageing.

“So many clues about our overall health come from the amazing world of microorganisms,” said Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome. “L’Oréal is an ideal partner for uBiome as it has had a strong focus in scientific innovation in this space for years. Their expertise, combined with uBiome’s advanced understanding of the skin microbiome will allow us to pave the way for the future of personalized skin care.”

Founded in 2012, Silicon Valley-based uBiome has the world’s largest database of human microbiomes, and has seven issued patents and 250 pending. Its platform includes four kits for at-home testing that has been used by thousands of consumers, doctors and more than 200 research institutions globally.

The partnership is being introduced at L’Oréal’s “Know Your Skin” exhibit at SXSW until Monday, March 11, where other featured innovations by the group are on show, including the My Skin Track UV devices (including the newly-introduced clip), the Custom D.O.S.E by SkinCeuticals, and an on-site skincare experience by Kiehl’s.

Guive Balooch will be joining the Current Global’s co-founder and CEO, Liz Bacelar, on stage at SXSW on Monday, March 11, to talk about the future of connected beauty.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick Podcast

Supergoop! on the clean beauty revolution

Liz Bacelar and Supergoop!'s Amanda Baldwin
Liz Bacelar and Supergoop!’s Amanda Baldwin

“The clean beauty revolution is the next big thing that’s going to hit this industry,” says Amanda Baldwin, president of suncare brand, Supergoop!, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Speaking to Liz Bacelar, she explains that from day one, Supergoop has maintained a singular focus: convincing people to wear sunscreen every day by making it with the cleanest ingredients possible. After 11 years in business, the company is at the forefront of a huge shift in the industry.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Founder Holly Thaggard, created Supergoop after her friend was diagnosed with skin cancer, making it her mission to develop products that would convince people to wear SPF every day.

But this purpose is more than just the core of the products, Baldwin says, it’s also the main reason people want to work there. “We just surveyed to ask what’s making people excited about being our employees and the number one reason was the mission of the company.”

According to Baldwin, working in a company as mission-driven as Supergoop makes every decision easier for the team. “When you’re faced with some decision, it comes down to: does this help people wear SPF every single day? If the reason is yes, we should do it, if the answer is no, we don’t.”

Supergoop!
Supergoop!

Supergoop’s staff is cognizant of its deep sense of responsibility, especially at a time when more people are becoming aware of the ingredients in the products they consume. This is the edge of what Baldwin’s call the clean revolution. “Once you start reading labels, you can never go back. And I think that consumers should be able to trust brands to have done their research and to have done their work.”

In this episode, Baldwin also talks about how food trends can tell us what to expect from the beauty industry, the importance of learning from other people in order to create a successful company, and how to commit to being clean and cruelty-free without compromising the process.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Editor's pick

Nike encourages Mexican women to exercise with digital competition

Nike Mexico “Juntas Imparables”

Nike Women in Mexico is encouraging women to exercise more with a group competition that sees combined exercise minutes tallied for the chance of winning a final prize.

In order to join the competition, titled “Juntas Imparables” (Unstoppable Together), women must register their teams of four on a dedicated website, and from there continue to log their minutes of exercise through the Nike Training Club or Nike Running Club apps. The group that collectively tallies the most exercise minutes within a six week period (September 10 – October 19) will win a year’s worth of Nike sponsorship.

Nike is further supporting the participating teams by creating WhatsApp group chats where they will be connected to a Nike representative who will coach them throughout the competition. Groups are also able to monitor their progress and position in the ranking by visiting the Nike Imparables site, which features a leaderboard.

To promote the initiative, Nike has released a TV spot that sees top female Mexican athletes, such as football player Nayeli Rangel and boxer Mariana Juárez, sprinting through the streets of Mexico City while being faced with challenges such as men wolf-whistling, traffic and construction sites.

The campaign features a charitable aspect too – Nike has vouched that for every minute of exercise registered, it will fund another minute of play or exercise in collaboration with the NEMI foundation next year. This is part of the sportswear brand’s Hecho para Jugar (Made to Play) program, which was created to help Mexican children live happier and healthier lives.

Are you thinking innovatively enough? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns

ASICS unveils blackout running track to highlight the importance of mental strength

The ASICS Blackout Track
The ASICS Blackout Track

ASICS has unveiled the Blackout Track, a sports track in east London aiming to help runners win the ‘mental race’ by freeing them from any distractions.

The 150-meter course is set in complete darkness and features no technology, no music, no finish line and none of the other comforts associated with training for a marathon, thus forcing the runner to focus on synchronizing the mind and body. The initiative supports the launch of the Gel Kayano™ 25 shoe.

“ASICS was founded on the belief that a sound body fuels a sound mind, so this campaign goes right to the heart of who we are as a brand,” said ASICS’s global CMO Paul Miles. “Our promise is to bring our founder’s vision to life in the modern-age – where negative distractions of the mind can prevent us from reaching our potential and going the distance.”

During the launch campaign, the track will also host a series of events to demonstrate the idea that in running it’s not the strongest physique that goes the long distance, but the strongest mind. Events include a 10K ‘mental marathon’ and a scientific experiment that shows the importance of mental strength for physical fitness.

“By exposing how easily the mind can be influenced, the campaign is designed to remind athletes of any ability about the importance of training both the mind and body, to reach their goals in sport and life,” said Fiona Berwick, strategic planner in ASICS’ global marketing team.

The track initiative was inspired by a technique practiced by long distance runners such as the Japanese, in which they run in loops for one or two miles without any technology.

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product Retail technology

SoulCycle teams up with Ultracor to create personalized leggings

SoulCycle x Ultracor
SoulCycle x Ultracor

Fitness brand SoulCycle is working with performance wear line Ultracor to give customers the opportunity to personalize their own pair of leggings in minutes.

A continuation of the duo’s collaboration in the summer of 2017, the partnership sees new Ultracor kiosks set up in select SoulCycle studios that allow indoor cycling guests, or “riders” as they’re known, to design and personalize their individual styles.

The kiosks are launching with five different legging designs; each one using next generation digital printing, patented built-in shapewear and breathable fabric.

The result means riders are able to customize their leggings in a number of ways to make them a perfect fit. By including height in the design process, the Ultracor kiosk is able to ensure that the knee break and waistband heights of the leggings are in a comfortable position for the wearer.

Customers can also select the exact shades they’d like to use for parts of their pants from a full color scale, rather than a few options. The designs can then be further personalized with the addition of up to 10 characters of text that are added to the back right side.

Soulcycle x Ultracor
Soulcycle x Ultracor

Each design is priced at circa $200 and new styles will be added to the kiosks every couple of weeks. The leggings are delivered to the customer within three business days.

The initiative is an interesting example of SoulCycle thinking beyond the idea of being a fitness studio and instead considering its role as a lifestyle brand; thinking about the retail side of things to drive consumer engagement and new revenue streams.

Brand collaboration has been long been a feature of SoulCycle’s strategy. It recently partnered with luxury fragrance company Le Labo to update its locker room amenities, for instance.

It has also partnered with a number of fashion brands to create capsule collections, and in a surprising twist, New York bakery Milk Bar, to create a protein post-workout cookie.

At SXSW this year, the company’s CEO Melanie Whelan joined Milk Bar’s Christina Tossi in a panel to discuss the importance of collaboration as part of a cult brand’s DNA. “Introducing new moments to surprise and delight consumers is key,” Whelan said.

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Editor's pick product technology

Why design is critical to innovation at L’Oréal’s technology incubator

L'Oréal's UV Sense
L’Oréal’s UV Sense

L’Oréal has given as much dues to design as it has to science and technology with its latest release at CES this week.

The global beauty group has unveiled UV Sense, a battery-free wearable electronic that provides consumers with individual information of their ultraviolet (UV) exposure through a small design worn on the nail. The product will launch for dermatological skincare brand La Roche-Posay this summer.

It has been created in collaboration with visionary designer Yves Behar, founder of fuseproject, and comes from L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator. It follows the first stretchable skin sensor measuring UV exposure from the group unveiled at CES in 2016, called My UV Patch, and follows user feedback for a smaller wearable with longer wear and real-time data.

“We set out to create something that blends problem-solving technology with human-centered design to reach even more consumers who require additional information about their UV exposure. Whenever we develop a new technology, our goal is to make an enormous global impact by enhancing consumers’ lives,” says Guive Balooch, global vice president of the incubator.

I sat down with him to find out more. Head over to Forbes to read the full story.

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Editor's pick technology

Fitbit’s collaboration with Public School aims to cement its place in the fashion world

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: A model poses backstage at Fitbit and PUBLIC SCHOOL Collaborate On Accessories Collection For Fitbit Alta on February 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Fitbit)

When Public School – one of New York Fashion Week’s hottest young designer brands – took to the runway with its Fall 2016 collection this week, it wasn’t just the clothes that garnered attention.

Adorning the wrists of several models were two new wearable technology accessories. A collaboration with Fitbit, both designs encompass the fitness tracking company’s new Alta product.

Slimmer and sleeker than previous Fitbit devices, the major additional selling point of Alta lies in its customisable, and thus interchangeable wristbands – something that has given Public School a lot of freedom to be creative with its concepts.

Indeed, rather than looking like a piece of technology, or a health or sports device, the results articulate a sense of style that bring wearables up to date with where contemporary fashion is headed.

Separate to its existing (and more feminine) collaboration with Tory Burch, this relationship with Public School is about aligning with the much more urban aesthetic that design duo and co-founders, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, bring.

“We draw our inspiration from New York City’s vibrant, active street culture and the people that surround us where we work, live and thrive,” they said. “As we work with Fitbit to design the collection for Alta, our goal is to create accessories that inspire, delight and have the versatility to become a modern extension of our users.”

While the Alta itself launches in March, the Public School accessories won’t hit retail until later this year. The collection will include five pieces (from fine metals to cheaper printed sports bands) in total, and if rumour is anything to go by, an impressive launch for the final styles during the next round of fashion week shows in September.

Head over to Forbes to read my interview with Tim Rosa, VP of global marketing at Fitbit, for the full lowdown on the collaboration and what’s ahead.

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Editor's pick technology

How a biometric bra at CES pointed to the future of wearable technology

ombra2

Amid the smart watches, fitness bands and other wrist-based devices dominating the wearable tech scene at CES this year, there was… a bra. In a sea of gadgets targeted predominantly to men, one product stood out for the very fact it could be nothing but aimed at women.

The OMbra, as it’s called, is an intelligent sports bra. Created by OMsignal, the team behind the Ralph Lauren PoloTech Shirt, it tracks the biometric basics you’d expect, including heart rate, distance and calories burned. But there also some exclusive metrics created by the company, such as “breathing rhythm” to help moderate your respiratory system and enable you to use less energy when running; “fatigue” to gauge what state of cumulative fatigue your body is in based on previous training; and “biometric effort”, which tells you exactly the level of effort you’ve put into each run.

All of that syncs to your mobile under the new OMrun platform, aiming to help you improve efficiency and performance over time. It also connects with other apps including Apple Health, Strava, Nike+, MapMyFitness and Runtastic.

While those digital aspects are central, key to the delivery of this product, according to OMsignal co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau, was ensuring it actually functioned as a comfortable and supportive item to wear first and foremost. Significant research was done into biomechanics for instance, focusing on such details as straps being the most common complaints about sports bras, and that the way a woman runs will change depending on how her breasts are supported.

Head over to Forbes to read my full interview with Marceau.

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digital snippets technology

Digital snippets: all the wearable tech news from #CES

under-armour-hb-2

Trawling the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES is the equivalent of perusing 38 football fields of shoulder-to-shoulder booths featuring endless displays of new technology.

The great news about the internet: you don’t have to actually do that hard work yourself. So here’s a round-up of all the fashion-related and wearable technology news that came out of the week, as written by other people all over the web (I too gave it a miss this year!)…

  • How Under Armour plans to turn your clothes into gadgets [Wired]
  • Under Armour’s Gemini 2 sneakers are fitness trackers for your feet (as pictured) [Mashable]
  • Misfit’s wearables hide their tech behind cool minimalism [Wired]
  • Fitbit Blaze launches as $200 Apple Watch competitor [TechRepublic]
  • Samsung unveils ‘Smart Suit’ as part of family of wearables [Mashable]
  • Samsung made a smart belt that doesn’t suck [The Verge]
  • Fossil to roll out 100 wearables [WWD]
  • OMbra biometric smart sports bra woos women [BrandChannel]
  • L’Oréal patch measures UV exposure [TrendWalk]
  • Fashion icon Iris Apfel debuts luxury smart bracelets that track health [MedicalDaily]
  • Mira’s new smart jewellery combines tech and high fashion [DigitalTrends]
  • Futuristic sneakers tighten automatically, warm your feet and are controlled by an app [MailOnline]
  • Casio maps out smartwatch territory in cyclists and hikers [FT]
  • SCOTTeVEST’s new jacket lets users cleverly store a laptop inside their clothing [iDigitalTimes]
  • Clothes at the CES fashion show actually looked pretty normal [CNET]
  • A look at some of the wackiest wearables on show [Wareable]

Image via Mashable

Categories
technology

CES 2016: L’Oréal patch measures UV exposure

sun_CES

Now for some serious innovation in sun protection… At CES, L’Oréal has unveiled a smart skin patch developed by its incubator team that can tell the wearer how much exposure he/she has had to harmful UV.

Called My UV Patch, it’s thinner than a plaster, lasts around five days and can be worn just about anywhere on the body that’s likely to get exposed to the sun.

It launches in 16 countries this summer and – even more interesting – will be free.

The patch’s photosensitive blue dye charges colour on UV exposure. That gives you some idea of your UV exposure but for a more accurate view, the wearer takes a photo, uploads it to an app and, hey presto, a full assessment of the UV exposure the skin has had.

The company told the BBC that existing wearables come as jewellery or wrist bands but are limited because they have to be worn on one part of the body. But L’Oréal is a specialist in products that can be worn more widely so this development makes sense.

And it’s not an instant product that changes colour on UV exposure then does nothing else. The fact that it can be worn for days allows users to get a broader view of what’s happening to their skin.

That said, having to take pictures and going into an app could be something of a block for many people. As consumers, we all want things to be easy and while the committed skin protector might be ok with the method, the people who are less likely to apply sun protection when they need to might be put off.

But, for now, it’s an interesting development and one that should be applauded for its laudable aims as well as for its future potential – patches such as this can be used in the future to measure a wide variety of other health and skincare-related issues too.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday