It took four years, but he and a team created a robot that could apply lash extensions. Currently, Luum’s procedure takes about 50 minutes, an improvement from the usual two-plus hours. Their goal is to cut the time down to 25 minutes for a full set of lash extensions and 20 minutes for a refill.
How Luum works
The robot was created to function as if it were a lash specialist — but instead of having two hands, it has two wands similar to tweezers. And it is trained to see clients like a human technician’s eyes would: “The machine is powered by computer vision,” says Rachel Gold, co-founder and head of marketing at LUUM. Computer vision is a type of AI that trains computers to understand and interpret images.
One robot isolates the natural lash while another picks up an extension, dips it in adhesive, and lays it exactly over the natural lash. “Their ‘brains,’ essentially, are built out of all these little calculations that [behave] like the way neurons behave,” Harding has told Allure. “One [robot] searches for an isolated lash using flexible wire ends and it tells the other robot, ‘Hey, come over here and place an extension.’ The placement robot has to know exactly where it is in space to accurately [lay an extension on top of an eyelash].” No small feat, considering both the eyelash and the extension are only “about a hundred microns in diameter,” Harding adds. The process doesn’t just make the lash extension application faster, it also helps minimize human error. “Eyelashes are so tiny, manipulating them is right at the edge of human capacity in terms of vision and dexterity,” Gold says. “But for robotics, it is quite natural.” Even so, nothing can completely replace the human touch — and whether or not companies should even be attempting to do so with robots is a new and controversial topic — but Luum has a human technician on standby to address the robot’s work.
As a safety precaution, the wands are hyper-delicate — Gold compares their weight to that of feathers — and sensitive to the slightest change in pressure, even a sneeze. “Earthquakes are common in the bay area,” says Gold, “so the machine will immediately pause at the slightest shift.”
My Experience with Luum
The appointment started like any other, no robot in sight. A (human) lash specialist greeted me and asked me about my desired look (I wanted noticeable volume with extra density that would make someone do a double take, but wouldn’t scream “fake lashes”), offering me a pair of fuzzy socks, a weighted blanket, and a pair of headphones to wear during the treatment. Fancy, no?