What if your hair could sing? Soniphy Hair, the latest innovation from L’Oréal Japan, is designed to translate the condition of your hair into an audio signal, a technology that will allow stylists, for example, to prove the effectiveness of a scalp-repairing treatment to their clients. FAB met up with the research team to find out more about this technological revolution that could help beauty professionals and their clients all over the world.
Soniphy Hair: How Does It Work?
There is not many ways of evaluating the health and condition of a person’s hair: by observing it under a microscope or by measuring the hair’s friction using special sensors or the K-Camera, this technology developed by Kérastase is a camera that will analyze hair health very accurately and reveal its dryness
Now there’s Soniphy Hair. All a stylist needs to do is move a dedicated sensor through a client’s hair to transform its health and condition into music. It’s a huge step forward for stylists, who will find it much easier to demonstrate the beneficial effects of their work to their clients… at the same time as treating them to a unique experience: hearing their own hair sing.
The Happy Encounter Between A Researcher & A Music Producer
The idea behind this tech first came about in 2015, following a meeting between a researcher at L’Oréal Japan and music producer Hiroaki IDEZ. “At his company EI Produce, he had already begun working on turning scientific and medical data into music. He wanted to help sick children to better understand how their body was reacting to their treatments,” L’Oréal Japan’s research team explained to FAB.
The idea of taking these techniques and using them to show the beneficial effects of haircare products on damaged hair came about by itself: “It didn’t take long for us to dream up using this technology to help show our clients that their hair was in much better condition after using a new haircare routine. We decided to look at things from a new angle and make use of a whole new sense: hearing.”
Turning Hair Friction Into Music
The first challenge to be overcome was working out what was the most important data to turn into sound. The analysis of the hair follicle’s surface was a natural choice. “The surface of a hair follicle is different to the root at the ends, especially for long hair. Working with this idea was the best place to start.”
After a year’s work, the final prototype was finished in October 2016. “We developed a mobile sensor that can measure the friction of a client’s hair in just four seconds. The health and condition of the hair, as well as the angle of the cuticle, has a big impact on its friction. From that point, EI Produce took on the job of transforming the data we collected into music. The final step was adapting our algorithms to make them a closer fit with the unique texture of Japanese hair!” L’Oréal Japan’s research team told FAB.
Patented in October 2016 and an award winner at the renowned International Federation of Societies of Cosmetics Chemists, Soniphy Hair allows “the creation of a unique melody for different hair conditions”, the team told FAB, proud of their innovation.
Proving The Effectiveness Of In-salon Treatments
Although the research team plan on continuing development of the Soniphy Hair technology in Japan, the rest of the world will have to wait a while before it’s rolled out commercially. “We are going to take the time to properly develop Soniphy Hair so that it’s easy to use in-salon. In the long term we aim to provide both a sensory and emotional result to help show our clients how effective our products are,” the team continued.
By helping clients to better understand the health and condition of their hair, this music could become a unique and precious tool for stylists who want to guarantee their clients’ satisfaction. “We’ve already tested the technology in a few salons in Japan and South Korea. The reactions have been amazing, particularly from our older clients. The younger ones who are well versed in the latest tech thought the demonstration was really impressive too. They even asked if the music was pre-recorded!” concluded the researchers, eager to finally unveil their work to the general public. So keep an eye out for this innovation in a salon near you!