San Francisco startup debuts first-ever manicure ROBOT, which paints nails in just ten minutes


A startup company has debuted the first-ever manicure robot, which can perfectly paint nails in about ten minutes.

Clockwork, which opened a lab in San Francisco last Friday, offers contactless manicures for just $7.99.

The lab’s two new machines take photos of customers’ nails and then coat them with polish, getting them in and out the door in a fraction of the time that it takes to get a traditional mani.

A mani in minutes! A startup company has debuted the first-ever manicure robot, which can perfectly paint nails in about ten minutes

Clockwork offers contactless manicures for just $7.99

Clockwork offers contactless manicures for just $7.99

The lab's two new machines take photos of customers' nails and then coat them with polish

The lab’s two new machines take photos of customers’ nails and then coat them with polish

Clockwork’s manicure robots have been in development since 2017, but last week the company opened a popup location for customers to try it out for the first time.  

‘Clockwork designs robots that liberate people from everyday mundane tasks,’ says the company’s website.

‘Why nails? For many of us, it’s a weekly task to check off the list. Most people spend 60 minutes per week on their nails. That’s 3,120 minutes a year! But if we can cut that down to just 10 minutes — what would you do with those extra moments?’

Customers must make appointments, with time slots already booking up weeks in advance. 

They should arrive with clean nails, though they can use the lab’s nail polish remover to wipe them down themselves.

When they’re ready, hands are placed one at a time inside the machine. One finger is placed under a sensor, and cameras inside take photos of the nail to determine its exact shape.

The company was founded in 2017 but opened a lab in San Francisco last Friday

The company was founded in 2017 but opened a lab in San Francisco last Friday

The robots paint nails, but don't cut and shape them — so for now, they're just an extra service or a way to get in a quick polish in a rush

The robots paint nails, but don’t cut and shape them — so for now, they’re just an extra service or a way to get in a quick polish in a rush

The machine then paints each nail, one at a time, with the both hands done in about ten minutes. 

Though the robots are currently only available at Clockwork’s popup, the company expects them to be in retail stores, office, and even apartment complexes in the future.

But while the goal is to have the machines in lots of locations, Renuka Apte, who founded the company with Aaron Feldstein, doesn’t think they’ll pose any threat to professional nail technicians.

She pointed out to the New York Times that the robots paint nails, but don’t cut and shape them — so for now, they’re just an extra service or a way to get in a quick polish in a rush. 

Julie Bornstein, who founded the shopping app The Yes and invested in Clockwork, explained that particular usefulness to the Times.

After the popup opened last week, TikTok user Elissa Maercklein offered a look inside the shop and a close-up video of what it was really like to get a manicure from a robot

After the popup opened last week, TikTok user Elissa Maercklein offered a look inside the shop and a close-up video of what it was really like to get a manicure from a robot

Elissa shows herself putting a hand in the device, with one finger held in place. The inside of the machine flashes lights over her finger

Elissa shows herself putting a hand in the device, with one finger held in place. The inside of the machine flashes lights over her finger

A brush comes down and outlines the nail, then fills it in with the customer's color choice

A brush comes down and outlines the nail, then fills it in with the customer’s color choice

'I don't think this will replace the artistry of nail technicians but I do think for professionals and working people, it's a really great quick option to be able to get your nails done,' she said

‘I don’t think this will replace the artistry of nail technicians but I do think for professionals and working people, it’s a really great quick option to be able to get your nails done,’ she said

‘I personally don’t like spending 40 minutes going to the nail salon,’ she said. 

Among other investors are Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian and former Stitch Fix COO Julie Bornstein.

After the popup opened last week, TikTok user Elissa Maercklein offered a look inside the shop and a close-up video of what it was really like to get a manicure from a robot.

Elissa shows herself putting a hand in the device, with one finger held in place. The inside of the machine flashes lights over her finger before a brush comes down and outlines the nail, then fills it in.

Though she was clearly impressed with the robots — and wrote that she was ‘living in the future’ — she agreed with the assessment that they wouldn’t replace professionals. 

‘I don’t think this will replace the artistry of nail technicians but I do think for professionals and working people, it’s a really great quick option to be able to get your nails done,’ she said.



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