Proctor & Gamble is ramping up production for what's considered to be the world's smallest inkjet printer. But this isn't any printer - it's one for your face.
P&G first introduced the Opté Precision Skincare System publicly at the Consumer Electronic Show in January. It's a shaver-size device that scans, detects and automatically corrects any blemishes on the skin, such as hyper-pigmentation and age spots.
Inventor Thomas Rabe says as the user moves Opté over their face:
- Blue LED lights illuminate the imperfections, many invisible to the naked eye
- An integrated digital camera captures 200 skin images a second and takes 24,000 pictures each use
- A minicomputer with 70,000 lines of code figures out the size, shape and intensity of the spot when compared to adjacent skin
- A micro-printer with 120 thermal inkjet nozzles squirts tiny serum droplets onto the skin. The 1,000 picoliter droplets, or one billionth of a liter, are deposited on each imperfection, which the company says is 1 million times more precise than a finger
Each day, Opté applies the serum that comes in a cartridge that holds 60 applications. The coverage is temporary and is removed each time you wash your face.
Amazingly, Rabe says, even with sun damage, most people only need coverage of 10 percent of their face.
The liquid coming out of the jets is opaque and works on all skin types. One challenge was suspending the pigments so they don't get caught on the bottom. "We actually went to the inkjet industry first and said can you help us create white opaque ink and they literally said, 'That's the holy grail of our industry. No one's been able to create a stable white ink in the history of a thermal inkjet,' " Rabe says. "So we are very proud to say we were the first company that was ever able to create this."
P&G is looking to license the technology back to the printing industry.
Procter & Gamble chemist Matt Linser was tasked with suspending the ingredients in the liquid so they didn't settle at the bottom, but still making them thin enough to fit through the inkjet nozzles. Lead Consumer Expert Becky Kolakoski has been bringing women in to try the product. The company says they are amazed at the before-and-after pictures.
Tests continue for Opté. Jeremy Change wants to make sure the product works for people who scan their face really fast. Typically a treatment takes 2-3 minutes. "We actually put a device into this robot arm," he says. "There's a piece of fake skin that's in front of the robot arm."
P&G hasn't priced the product yet. The company plans to sell it on a limited basis before Christmas and then roll it out in January 2020.