On my radar: Innovation that will make you blush

2014-06-12 12:00

The speed and the way in which some technology trends evolve takes my breath away.

Take 3-D printing, for example. The fact that the healthcare industry is already using 3-D printers to print prostheses like artificial eyes and bone replacements illustrates the massive potential of this technology.

Over the past two years, this trend has moved from a futuristic technology that would one day enable anyone to manufacture a one-off item in the comfort of his or her home, to a now ubiquitous desktop machine that is available alongside most household appliances in most electronic stores.

But while the mainstream user is still coming to grips with the full benefit of these machines, the early adopters are finding new ways to disrupt businesses and their value chains.

One of the most startling developments was unveiled last month at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2014 conference in New York.

An eagerly awaited event at the conference is called the Battlefield, a prestigious start-up competition where hopeful entrepreneurs present their unseen start-up concepts, and hopefully launch them – even if they don’t win the $50?000 (R539?000) development prize money – on one of technology’s biggest global stages.

One of the start-ups, which didn’t eventually win, but nevertheless caught my eye, involved an innovative twist on 3-D printing.

Grace Choi, a self-confessed “serial inventor” and Harvard Business School graduate, presented a concept that could very well threaten the status quo of the cosmetics industry – exactly what was predicted that 3-D printing would do one day.

Her start-up project is called Mink, and what it does is print out make-up, whether it is an eye shadow, lipstick or blush, in whatever colour you want.

Part of her presentation involved an explanation of how she thinks make-up users are held to ransom by the big beauty corporations.

According to her, 70% of make-up is currently bought in mass retail outlets. In order for those retailers to turn a healthy profit, they stick to generic colours they know are popular and will sell continuously, in large volumes.

So mass producers don’t invest in seasonal and more fashionable or trendy colours as a wider variety of colours would be more expensive to produce, resulting in lower profit margins, leaving users who want unusual colours with the expensive option of luxury brands or boutiques.

In this sense, Choi believes consumers are being unfairly charged a premium for something that is free online: colour.

Using Mink, Choi intends to completely disrupt the value chains of not only the beauty and cosmetic industries, but retail. Aimed at young, digital natives who do not have an established buying pattern or specific brand loyalty, Mink is user-friendly. Here’s how it works:

.?You see a colour you like, any colour (it doesn’t have to be an existing make-up colour).

.?You scan or photograph that colour (even with a mobile phone camera).

.?The colour is then translated into a hex code, a six-digit code that defines all colours on the web (for example, #FF0000 for red). This hex code is what Choi believes consumers are unfairly charged a premium for, as all colours can be digitally boiled down to a code sequence.

.?The hex code is then fed into a simple programme like Photoshop, which then instructs the Mink 3-D printer to create your personalised make-up using whatever substrate (lipstick base material, or powder for blush or eye shadow) that is loaded into it.

.?The product you print, for example an eye shadow, will fit into a standardised compact, which enables you to carry your freshly printed colour make-up with you.

With Mink, Choi intends to shift the dictates of the beauty industry out of the grip of the big corporations and place them squarely into the hands of users.

» Chang is the founder of Flux Trends. For more trends, visit fluxtrends.com

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

6 myths about male cancer
Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.