Google open-sources skin tone research to improve inclusivity

Google has been working with researchers to make its products and services more inclusive for people with darker skin tones. Now, the company is open sourcing a major part of that work. The company is making its skin tone research widely available as part of its effort at creating more ”responsible AI.” The research has so far resulted in the Monk Skin Tone Scale (MST), a scale “designed to be easy-to-use for development and evaluation of technology while representing a broader range of skin tones.”

The scale is meant to more accurately reflect the diversity of different skin tones, Google says, and was developed with Harvard professor Dr. Ellis Monk. The work will help AI more accurately “see” a wider range of skin tones, especially darker ones.

This research will be most apparent to users in Search results and in Google's Photos app to start. For Search, Google is using the MST scale to surface results that are more inclusive of darker skin tones. For example, makeup-related searches will come with a filter for adjusting for different skin tones so users can find results that are most relevant for them.

Google is making Search results more inclusive to different skin tones.
Google

In Photos, Google is also using the MST scale to power a new set of “Real Tone filters.” According to Google, these filters are “designed to work well across skin tones” and “a wider assortment of looks.” 

Eventually, Google says it will incorporate the MST scale into more of its products and services. It’s also working to make it easier for brands, creators and publishers to label content to adapt to the scale so Search will be better able to surface results for different hair textures and colors too.

Google isn't the first company to undertake this type of work. Pinterest has launched features to better detect diverse skin tones and different hair textures. Snapchat has also conducted research into making its camera more inclusive to darker skin tones. But with Google making its work open source, these kinds of advancements could become much more common.

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2022 right here!

Google open-sources skin tone research to improve inclusivity

Google has been working with researchers to make its products and services more inclusive for people with darker skin tones. Now, the company is open sourcing a major part of that work. The company is making its skin tone research widely available as part of its effort at creating more ”responsible AI.” The research has so far resulted in the Monk Skin Tone Scale (MST), a scale “designed to be easy-to-use for development and evaluation of technology while representing a broader range of skin tones.”

The scale is meant to more accurately reflect the diversity of different skin tones, Google says, and was developed with Harvard professor Dr. Ellis Monk. The work will help AI more accurately “see” a wider range of skin tones, especially darker ones.

This research will be most apparent to users in Search results and in Google's Photos app to start. For Search, Google is using the MST scale to surface results that are more inclusive of darker skin tones. For example, makeup-related searches will come with a filter for adjusting for different skin tones so users can find results that are most relevant for them.

Google is making Search results more inclusive to different skin tones.
Google

In Photos, Google is also using the MST scale to power a new set of “Real Tone filters.” According to Google, these filters are “designed to work well across skin tones” and “a wider assortment of looks.” 

Eventually, Google says it will incorporate the MST scale into more of its products and services. It’s also working to make it easier for brands, creators and publishers to label content to adapt to the scale so Search will be better able to surface results for different hair textures and colors too.

Google isn't the first company to undertake this type of work. Pinterest has launched features to better detect diverse skin tones and different hair textures. Snapchat has also conducted research into making its camera more inclusive to darker skin tones. But with Google making its work open source, these kinds of advancements could become much more common.

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2022 right here!

Epilator design uses Voronoi pattern for better grip

Unsightly body hair can be the bane of existence of a lot of women and so hair removal tools are their best friends. We’ve seen epilators get better design and functionalities over the years but there’s always room for improvement, especially for product designers. While razors have the same basic function for both men and women, the latter would want something more beautiful and at the same time do what it needs to do which is get rid of body hair that you want to get rid of.

Designer: Gihawoo Design

Since batteries and components are getting smaller now, devices like razors and epilators can also become more portable and compact. This means product designers can come up with something more pretty and at the same time something that’s more flexible, especially for those who travel or move a lot. The Razorose design for a razor / epilator combines these elements to make this accessory more appealing other than its main function.

Even though an epilator gets smaller, it still needs to have a good grip as a razor that slips in your hands can be a dangerous thing. This product design uses a Voronoi pattern which may be familiar to those studying math and/or design. Basically, it’s a series of planes and shapes with the regions close to the seed or a cell. Basically, design-wise, it’s just patterns that will help you grip the razor better without adding to the weight of the epilator.

If you’re afraid of patterns like these though like those who suffer from trypophobia, the design would be something that will give you goosebumps or you would not want to look at at all (and if you don’t know what that means, maybe don’t google it). But if you’re okay with these kinds of shapes and patterns, then this would be a functionality of the Razorose that would appeal to you. Not only will it give you a better grip but it looks pretty too.

Since you don’t need a high-capacity battery for this (unless you need to spend longer getting rid of that body hair), you don’t need to charge it immediately. But of course, there’s an option to have a separate battery installed if the charger isn’t enough. The renders come in different colors, mostly pastel, that would appeal to most women (or men).

The post Epilator design uses Voronoi pattern for better grip first appeared on Yanko Design.

What we bought: A microdermabrasion device to scrape off my skin

When I was 12, a classmate and I were rewriting the lyrics to a well-known song in Singapore called One people, one nation, one Singapore. My friend, thinking of homonyms, had renamed it “One pimple, one facial, one single pore.” Our teacher walked in after we finished writing the lyrics on the whiteboard, took one look at the title, and asked the class, “Did you all write that song about Cherlynn?”

I don’t remember exactly how I felt or responded in the moment, but that memory clearly stayed with me. Since then, I’ve felt like I was battling to salvage my face. My mom did her best to help, as did various family members, by taking me to facial treatments and giving me product recommendations and diet advice. But my hormones brought on years of angry acne that covered my whole face and parts of my body, and I picked at those zits with self-loathing. That led to deep scarring and the development of raised scar tissue called keloids all over my shoulders, chest and upper back. My sensitive skin, combined with a family history of keloids, made managing my complexion feel like an insurmountable challenge.

These days, thanks to two rounds of Accutane in my early twenties and having sunk many hours into researching skincare, I feel a lot better. I’ve become the person in my friend group who knows the most about things like actives, occlusives, sheet masks, overnight masks, sunscreens and how different formulas and suspensions affect the absorption of a product. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but chances are if there’s something new in beauty, I’ve either read about or tried it.

A woman holding a pink PMD Personal microdermabrasion device to her temple with one hand and pulling her skin taut with the other.
PMD Beauty

One such beauty gadget is PMD Beauty’s Personal Microderm Classic, which I bought in 2019 for $159. I had been looking into tools that could help remove dead skin cells and trigger new cell growth. Between microneedling and microdermabrasion, the latter felt like a safer option. (I bought a microneedling kit last year that I haven’t yet dared to use.)

According to Healthline, microdermabrasion “is considered a safe procedure for most skin types and colors.” It could help with common concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, dullness and more.

As with all skincare products, I must remind you to check with your dermatologist before buying and using anything. I did not, but in this case it was a risk I was willing to take after reading a ton of reviews.

The PMD is a handheld device roughly the size of an electric razor with a spinning disc at its tip, covered by a plastic cap. The set I bought came with four discs of varying intensities, and a guide in the box describes which of the color-coded options you choose for your first few rounds.

Using a combination of the spinning discs and suction, the machine is supposed to exfoliate surface skin cells and increase circulation. PMD’s website says “Once this barrier is removed, skin care products can penetrate 20X deeper maximizing the benefits of skin care.”

I can’t tell you exactly how much dead skin it’s removed or if my beauty products get absorbed precisely 20 times deeper than before. But I’ve definitely noticed that in the days after using the PMD, my serums do seem to penetrate my skin more quickly.

The guide also describes how to use the device. After inserting the appropriate disc, turn on the PMD and place the suction cup on your (clean, dry) face and drag it outwards. The company cautions against going over any part of your face more than once, though when I did by accident, it didn’t destroy my skin. In fact, at no point in my nearly three years with the PMD have I felt any pain or irritation.

Immediately after each session, I like to slather on a moisturizing mask as my face feels slightly dry and exposed. The company recommends it, too, and it does help me feel like the ingredients are more effectively absorbed. You can do an overnight sleep mask (I love the one from Laneige), a sheet mask or a 20-minute rinse-off option, but I would still use a moisturizer after washing off a mask.

A person holding a light blue PMD Personal microdermabrasion device to their face with one hand while pulling their skin taut with the other.
PMD Beauty

In the days after a PMD session, I also avoid using any other exfoliants, peels or ingredients like retinol, and instead consistently use more hydrating products with hyaluronic acid, for example. I used my PMD weekly during my first few months with it, switching to discs of greater intensity every six weeks or so. I tapered off to using the device every other week, and after about a year I noticed the pitted scarring on my cheeks look shallower. My temples still have noticeably uneven texture, but they look less obvious now.

Can I attribute all of this improvement to the PMD? I’m not sure. As with many skincare products, it’s hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t. It could be the microdermabrasion that made the greatest impact, or it could be the The Ordinary peel I’ve been using in tandem (on weeks when I didn’t use the PMD). But I do feel like the device has helped.

My quest to get clear, smooth skin is neverending (though, I’m pretty happy with where I am at the moment). And of course, a flawless face is an unrealistic goal that no one should feel pressured to attain. If you happen to be looking for an at-home version of microdermabrasion procedures, which according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons costs about $167 per visit on average, the PMD feels like a less-intimidating, low-stakes approach. Of course, the gadget is not likely to be as advanced as those you’d find in a clinic. At $159, the PMD isn’t exactly an impulse purchase, but this isn’t the kind of device you want to cheap out on.

The TheraFace Pro gently punches your face to help you relax

Therabody, best known as the maker of Theragun percussive recovery devices, is launching its first product for your face. The company unveiled the $399 TheraFace Pro, which offers a mix of functions, including percussive, light and microcurrent therapies. It can also provide cryothermal treatment, which the company said can help reduce tension, relax muscles and “[address] discomfort related to migraines, headaches, and jaw pain.”

Therabody says the TheraFace is FDA-cleared, which is different from approved, as it simply requires the company to provide evidence that the device is substantially similar to a previously cleared or approved product.

Still, according to the twolistings for TheraFace in the FDA database, it’s cleared for “wrinkle reduction” and “pain relief.” Now, I haven’t experienced any headaches or jaw pain in the days I’ve had a sample unit of the TheraFace Pro, so I can’t tell you how effective it is at relieving pain. I’m also blessed to have no obvious wrinkles (yet), so I can’t vouch for the device’s ability to reduce them.

The bundle I received came with a tube of the company’s TheraOne “conductive gel,” which you’re supposed to use like a typical rinse-off mask (even though it sounds like it will electrocute your face). The handheld device is about the size of an electric razor, except that it has a bulbous top with interchangeable attachments.

The TheraFace Pro and its accompanying attachments, charging cable and carrying case.
Therabody

Two magnetic heads were included: one with a light ring and one with two metal knobs. The latter is for applying and rubbing a mask all over your face, and, with microcurrents, the company said it’ll also tighten your skin and improve muscle tone and contour in the face/neck. There were also three attachments that connect to the percussive part of the machine that gently punch your face.

That might sound weird but it’s exactly what the TheraFace does. It’s basically a mini Theragun that’s a lot less intense. Even at the highest of its three intensity settings, the TheraFace never felt like it was going to leave a bruise, and I did feel an odd sense of calm during the massage.

Therabody said the idea for this feature came in part from customers who “shared anecdotes about using Theragun on their faces — which is not recommended.” The company combined its percussive technology with other modes “to address the face’s more than 40 muscles,” adding cleansing brushes, LED light and microcurrent therapies. The company also says the TheraFace is “the first device to combine a deep cleansing apparatus with percussive therapy.” My kit also came with hot and cold rings for thermal treatments.

A close-up of the TheraFace Pro with the ring light attachment hovering over its motor.
Therabody

You can use the three buttons on the handle to turn the device on, select vibration strengths or cycle through LED colors: red, blue or red and infrared. A small screen shows a simple menu that is hard to understand without Therabody’s guide as a reference. The options also vary depending on the attachment you’ve snapped on. TheraFace’s magnets are strong and secure, though sometimes putting the rings on can be a little tricky because the magnets in the middle want to repel them. I also appreciate that the machine charges via USB-C.

Though I haven’t used the TheraFace long enough to see any results, the company says it conducted a (very small) clinical study “with 35 US-based participants ranging from ages 25 to 61, presenting all skin types and self-perceived signs of uneven skin tone, lack of elasticity, lines and wrinkles, or a dull complexion.” For 12 weeks, the participants used the TheraFace either six minutes six days a week or 45 minutes once a week. According to Therabody, the vast majority of participants reported feeling like their skin looked healthier, had a decrease in wrinkles and noticed improvements in radiance, muscle tone and skin tightness.

I’m not sure how well the TheraFace Pro will address my skin concerns just yet, but as a face massager it’s certainly effective. For $399, this is a well-made device with a comprehensive range of features. Remember, though, that if you want the hot and cold rings, they’ll cost you an extra $99. That’s a fairly expensive package, but in the emerging beauty tech market, it’s a unique combination that might just cater to all your facial needs.

L’Oréal reveals its first at-home hair color device

At CES, L’Oréal is showing off its first hair color device that can be used at home. The handheld Colorsonic can mix and apply product evenly, according to the company. If it works as promised, Colorsonic should help users get consistent hair color results without having to go to the salon.

L’Oréal developed and refined the device over the course of five years with the help of its customers. Colorsonic's mixer mechanism uses a mess-free process to blend exact volumes of developer and formula from colorant cartridges to create the hair color. The machine applies the product through a nozzle of bristles that oscillates in a zigzag pattern for even distribution.

L’Oréal Colorsonic at-home hair color device and colorant cartridge.
L’Oréal

At-home dyeing and coloring kits have been around for decades. Still, the consistent results that L’Oréal is promising with Colorsonic could make the device worth checking out.

L'Oréal has become something of a mainstay at CES over the last several years. In 2019, it announced a sensor developed with wearable pioneer Professor John Rogers that measures skin hydration levels. The following year, it unveiled a smart dispenser that blends skincare product, taking into account factors like wrinkles, pore visibility, temperature and pollen levels. In 2021, L'Oréal's YSL brand revealed an at-home lipstick maker based on the Perso Smart Skincare system.

Follow all of the latest news from CES 2022 right here!

JLab’s latest $20 earbuds are designed to complement your skin tone

When it comes to blending in, nearly all true wireless earbuds fail miserably. That's mostly due to predominantly black and white color options, with a few brightly-hued variants tossed in along the way. Even if the buds are tiny, they're still highly visible due to their color. JLab is on a quest to remedy this and the audio company teamed up with nail care brand ORLY to develop a solution. With the Go Air Tones, the duo selected a collection of seven Pantone colors that are "flattering for people across a spectrum of skin tones." 

JLab says it worked with ORLY to select the final hues from an original collection of over 60 options. Given the beauty brand's experience with creating nude nail polishes, the seven colors "encompassed a variety of skin tones with a mix of warm, neutral and cool undertones. While the colors reflect actual skin tones, most users will find the colors "flattering" without an exact match, according to JLab. If you're having trouble selecting the best option, JLab offers an AR fitting room for a virtual try-on that might help you decide.

JLab Go Air Tones
JLab

The Go Air Tones are the same earbuds as the $20 Go Air Pop that JLab debuted back in August. This means you'll get on-board touch controls, the ability to use either bud on its own, a collection of EQ presets and IPX4 protection from moisture. There's also an enclosed case with built-in USB cable for charging. JLab says you can expect up to eight hours on the earbuds themselves with an additional three charges from the included case. The only difference between the Pop and the Tones are the available color options for each. 

The Go Air Tones are available for pre-order today for $20. They're scheduled to begin shipping in mid-January. 

JLab Go Air Tones
JLab

JLab’s latest $20 earbuds are designed to complement your skin tone

When it comes to blending in, nearly all true wireless earbuds fail miserably. That's mostly due to predominantly black and white color options, with a few brightly-hued variants tossed in along the way. Even if the buds are tiny, they're still highly visible due to their color. JLab is on a quest to remedy this and the audio company teamed up with nail care brand ORLY to develop a solution. With the Go Air Tones, the duo selected a collection of seven Pantone colors that are "flattering for people across a spectrum of skin tones." 

JLab says it worked with ORLY to select the final hues from an original collection of over 60 options. Given the beauty brand's experience with creating nude nail polishes, the seven colors "encompassed a variety of skin tones with a mix of warm, neutral and cool undertones. While the colors reflect actual skin tones, most users will find the colors "flattering" without an exact match, according to JLab. If you're having trouble selecting the best option, JLab offers an AR fitting room for a virtual try-on that might help you decide.

JLab Go Air Tones
JLab

The Go Air Tones are the same earbuds as the $20 Go Air Pop that JLab debuted back in August. This means you'll get on-board touch controls, the ability to use either bud on its own, a collection of EQ presets and IPX4 protection from moisture. There's also an enclosed case with built-in USB cable for charging. JLab says you can expect up to eight hours on the earbuds themselves with an additional three charges from the included case. The only difference between the Pop and the Tones are the available color options for each. 

The Go Air Tones are available for pre-order today for $20. They're scheduled to begin shipping in mid-January. 

JLab Go Air Tones
JLab

Circul+ packs an ECG sensor into its heart-tracking ring

Bodimetrics is today announcing the second-generation of its Circul heart-rate monitoring smart ring, the Circul+. The updated wearable, co-branded with Prevention Magazine, is one of the first smart rings on the market that includes a built-in ECG within its small body. As well as the ECG, the device offers continuous heart-rate monitoring, finger temperature and blood oxygenation readings. Bodimetrics adds that it has worked to ensure that all skin tones will get accurate measurements while wearing the ring, as well.

Hewn from stainless steel, the Circul+ packs a 20mAh battery that the company says is good for 16 hours of service on a charge. And it’s clear that the device isn’t really as smart as some of the other devices that are designed to be worn as rings. Instead, it’s doubling down on giving you accurate cardio stats, with the app letting you decide if you want to track stats during an exercise session, or sleep.

Rather than a full ring, the Circul+ has a boxy section which is designed to be worn on the underside of your finger. When you want to take an ECG, you place the tip of a finger on the other hand on this section in order to complete the circuit.

The Circul+ will be available from WalMart priced at $299.

Pinterest launches hair pattern search with BIPOC users in mind

Pinterest has launched a new search feature that could make it easier for Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx and other POC users to find hair inspiration that would suit their hair types. The visual discovery website has introduced hair pattern search, it said, with BIPOC users in mind. This new feature uses computer vision-powered object detection to enable users to refine their searches by six different hair patterns: protective, coily, curly, wavy, straight and shaved/bald.

Now, after users search for broader terms like "summer hairstyles," "glam hair" or "short hair," they'll find new hair pattern buttons that will narrow down the results. The feature is now live in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand on desktop, as well as on iOS and Android. It will roll out to more locations over the coming months.

Yes, there are different types of curls, not to mention different hair textures and porosities, and Pinterest said its technology detected hair patterns in over 500 million images on its platform. Being able to refine results could help POC users find styling inspiration more easily instead of having to wade through pages and pages of hair images that wouldn't work for their hair types. That said, it remains to be seen how accurate the feature is and if it's truly effective in sifting through images on the website.

According to the company, this feature builds on its first inclusive product that allows users to search for images based on the subjects' skin tones. It worked with BIPOC creators and popular Pinners like Naeemah LaFond to design the product.

Pinterest's Head of Inclusive Product Annie Ta said in a statement: 

"Our mission on the Inclusive Product team is to help everyone feel like Pinterest is a place for them. As a visual discovery platform, we have an opportunity and responsibility to do a better job of increasing representation in the products we build. That's why we built hair pattern search using computer vision technology to help identify hair patterns in images. By doing this, we hope we're able to use technology for good and make it easier for people, no matter who they are, to find hair inspiration for them on Pinterest."

Pinterest
Pinterest