Preemadonna Turns Your Smartphone Into A Nail Salon

Preemadonna just unveiled the Lacey Nailbot, a nail decorating robot, at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015.

The Lacey, which will retail for $199, uses your smartphone’s back camera and prints full color art on nails in just a few seconds. The only thing you have to do before putting your finger under the Nailbot is prime your nail with white polish.

The Nailbot uses inkjet, and will eventually use actual nail polish, that is controlled through its system over wireless connection (BLE) to decorate the nail with a swipe or through a motorized solution. The Nailbot utilizes Hewlett Packard’s thermal technology, your phone’s camera, machine vision, computer vision and other technologies. In addition to the Nailbot itself, users can create, design, modify and share their art with the accompanying app.

“We’re focused on nail art as a form of creative expression,” Preemadonna Co-Founder Pree Walia told me ahead of Disrupt. “We wanted to build an automated device to paint nails. Nail art is this form of creative expression that girls of many ages use. We wanted to meet girls with technology that’s relevant to their lifestyle.”

Ultimately, Preemadonna is a smart consumer lifestyle company geared towards women. Before starting Preemadonna, Walia spent a few years working at connected hardware startups focused on LED lighting and building automation. Her co-founder and head of research and development, Casey Kute Schulz, is a robotics engineer who previously worked at Nasa Ames.

Preemadonna is tackling a big market. In the U.S., 92% of tweens and teens use nail products, 14% on a daily basis, according to a 2013 report from beauty and personal care analyst Mintel.

But Preemadonna’s vision is a lot bigger than nail art and retail, Walia said. The company is forming partnerships with social purpose organizations like Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails and Maker Girl to craft programs that also engage girls offline. Through Preemadonna’s Ambassadors program, young girls can learn social media and digital storytelling, computer programming and hacking, or digital and graphic design.

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Q: Can people design their own art?

A: We hear from a lot of girls they want to create their own art, so we’re creating programs for them to do so. We also have a licensed art store so that companies can create and license their own art.

Q: How do you defend this from other people?

A: We started with something we know well, with hardware and community building. We went through the Hax accelerator program. Building our community with teens and tweens is something that not a lot of other people do. We also have utility filings on the device.

Q: When you choose the emoticon or whatever to print, does it look at the size of the nail? How do you solve for that?

Q: Are you going to go after salons?

A: We’re not going after salons. There have been nail printers in the past. It’s a novel invention. The smartphone as the controller is such a differentiator. Girls as young as nine say they want to use our device. We can get the price point down by half in three years.