The Future Of Wearables Includes Sensor-Embedded Manicures


Wearable Services is a pop-up nail salon where customers receive high-tech gel manicures.

Tiffany Nesbit
  • 27 may 2014

From smart socks that track your running technique to wristbands that provide sun protection, wearable tech devices provide a wide range of assistance in our daily lives. However, to many, wearables seem to be made by tech people to be used only by other techies. With this line of thinking comes a feeling of exclusion, so two MFA design students came up with an idea that would allow everyday people to use wearables in their everyday lives.

Manicures cost around $12 and have become a frequent activity in many women’s lives that provides a few minutes of feeling pampered. These small spa services help women feel good, and the creators of Wearable Services, Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse, think manicures are capable of even more. Wearable Services is a proposal for a pop-up sensor nail salon, where digital sensors would be embedded into gel manicures, providing bio feedback, behavior modification, and programmable reminders. These manicures would be produced not by manicurists but by ‘technology technicians,’ who can help in customizing the different services.


Ortega and Rodenhouse came up with the idea while taking the Wearable Ecologies class at the Art Center College of Design. In the course, students were encouraged to explore and challenge the possibilities of wearable tech. In the first phase of their design, the sensors pulled data from the activities performed by the wearer and created a report. It wasn’t until a visit to the local nail salon that the girls realized the process of working with your nail technician was missing. They made alterations to the design and then held a workshop where five sensor options were user tested, eventually realizing the central and most important part of their creation.

According to their website, the key discovery was not the actual embedding of sensors into nails, but the need for new services that will develop because customizable wearables exist. In response to this realization, they created the proposal that will hopefully turn Wearable Services into a real-life salon, stating:

Our salon also challenges the idea that electronics must be made by a few companies and in mass quantities. Our decentralized salon of specialists can exist anywhere there is a demand. Depending on the client, the nails can provide bio feedback, behavior modification, reminders, haptic feedback or just a cool look.

To find out more, check out the video below.

Wearable Services

[h/t] Fast Company


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