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Is a hair-cutting drone the future of socially distanced beauty?

TextDominic Cadogan

Swedish developer Simone Giertz revisits her 2016 invention during lockdown

When the humble quadcopter – that’s drone to you and I – was first invented for military use back in the early 1900s (who knew?), it was unlikely that anyone imagined how it might be used in the future. Flashforward 100 years or so and the drone has helped create art, filmed picturesque porn, and even buzzed around Lady Gaga when she performed at the 2017 Super Bowl

In 2016, inventor and self-proclaimed “queen of shitty robots” Simone Giertz wanted to take the drone in a new direction to see if it could try it hands out in the world of beauty. Teaming up with Los Angeles-based hacker Samy Kamkarn, the pair set out to see if they could achieve something never tried before – a haircutting drone. “I was on a mission to effectivise things in the least effective way possible. Also it was 2016. Drones seemed to be the answer to everything back then,” Giertz tells us, remembering the experience.

On the YouTube video documenting the task, the two first try attaching an electric razor, but only manage to cut off a single hair of the bewigged mannequin before it crashes to the ground. For the next try, a pair of gigantic scissors are skilfully attached (with duct tape) and motorised to open and close (rather manically) but that doesn’t do much better. “It is going to be a thing in the future. I can tell in like a couple of years,” muses Giertz at the end of the video. 

It’s now 2020 and the world is under lockdown, with salons all over the world closed and people taking things into their own hands – often with disastrous results. So, we’re now revisiting the haircut drone – and Simone – to see if it’s ready for a world in the grips of coronavirus. “It’s pending being patent-pending,” she says. “I still feel like this could be a multi-million dollar product, so I’m hesitant to discuss the specifics of it.” 

“In a bizarre turn of pandemic events, the haircutting drone might currently be safer than leaving the house to get a normal haircut,” she continues. “Still can’t recommend it though. It’s just hair! Let it grow. Let your scalp garden roam free.” So, if you’re not looking to lose a random chunk of hair – and maybe an ear in the process – it might be safer to just try out Giertz’s lipstick robot

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