Feature Design


Exploring the future of
health and beauty

Everyday health and beauty should be easier and smarter
– that’s the idea behind the BeautyExplorer system,
which enables informed choices from advanced skin analysis.
Welcome to a more beautiful future, as designed by Sony.

Envisioning everyday
health and beauty

Trendsetting and exciting ideas come from a clear sense of what people value today, and broad research and interviews can be insightful. What we found was a basic human desire for health and fulfillment, despite busy schedules. But we saw that rapid technological changes also bring stress that goes unnoticed, which may weigh on people’s minds. Shouldn’t technology support us and make life a little better? It was time to take a fresh look at technology through the lens of design, to introduce healthier habits for a more satisfying life.

As our designers were considering this topic, an intriguing application of camera image sensor technology was announced internally by our engineers. Besides showing us the world around us, sensors can also give us a clearer view of ourselves – by looking into our skin. Once the engineers showed in vivid detail textures, pores, and coloration unseen by the naked eye, designers imagined the health and beauty potential of skincare advice and solutions based on this data. Soon, a project began that united the zeal of engineers developing this technology with the determination of designers hoping to improve lives with it – a project that would bring Sony into the beauty industry for the first time.

Making life better,
in the true spirit of entertainment

Seeing firsthand what Sony sensor technology shows in skin analysis images was an eye-opener. And as the technology shows the way to better health and beauty, I’m sure people will be pleased with their healthier habits, putting us in a new relationship with consumers. But after all, the satisfaction BeautyExplorer gives people is probably just another facet of Sony entertainment.

Kimura, designer and design manager

Putting the pieces together
in business

BeautyExplorer would be the first Sony product for the beauty industry. Designers on the business planning team traced out a variety of usage scenarios, which also ensured that members were all on the same page. After they helped narrow down who would use the system and how, the team devised an overall business model rooted in our product vision. Not only would we provide a convenient, high-precision skin analysis device for the beauty industry, it would form part of a beauty solution encouraging healthier, happier lifestyles. To make it happen, we combined a specialized camera for skin measurement, analysis apps, and cloud services – the BeautyExplorer ecosystem.

For beauty salons, cosmetics companies, or other business partners, offering superior service with high-precision skin measurement is only the start of customer communication. Using measurement data stored in the cloud, these companies can keep offering helpful advice. For users, it provides an in-depth understanding of your skin condition. Regular measurement gives you an even better understanding of yourself and may lead to healthier habits. In this way, the business model developed by our product planners, engineers, and designers promotes lasting health and beauty.

Optimal business solutions
through design

In the B2B arena, many stakeholders are involved, and business is quite diverse. That’s why we must go on-site to analyze our customers’ business environment before tracing out suitable solutions for their hopes or concerns through design. By putting the pieces together for a viable business model, we can understand how to reach everyone’s desired destination and define a shared vision of our subsequent goals. Charting a course to optimal business solutions is a key role of ours in design.

Oba, general manager

Exploring beauty, as seen by Sony

To bring the qualities people expect from Sony to the business of beauty, we took steps to anticipate issues users might face in a variety of situations under this business model. Through on-site visits to observe the system in use, we decided which approaches to use in design. Three themes guided our efforts. The system had to be simple and intuitive enough for anyone to use, the device had to feel comfortable next to one’s skin, and the infographics in analysis results had to be clear, to make an impression on and motivate users. This would inspire reassuring interaction that turns the act of measuring into a comfortable experience.

Designing comfortable measurement

Comfort was essential in design, because the Skin View Camera is held next to the skin. One example is the moisture sensor. A cold, mechanical sensor surface would hardly be inviting to touch, so here, it has the same soothing white finish as the body. It’s also smooth – as gentle to your skin as possible. The device itself is easy to keep clean. Largely seamless, it can be wiped clean in an instant. Internal structures are held in place by a single screw. It’s made of carefully chosen, unadorned and uncoated plastic and aluminum, to stay clean longer. The coloring and finish reflect its inherent quality. To encourage regular measurement, this regard for comfort is evident in every detail.

Designing an enabling,
motivating experience

Developed along the same lines, Skin Analyzer is an app that runs on a tablet at salons or other sites. To avoid the clutter that tends to make statistics complex and confusing, a row of measurement criteria keeps the information neat and organized. Screen elements are obvious right from the start. And to avoid eye fatigue, soft and elegant tones and textures are used. Information is color-coded, so that at a glance, it’s apparent which results matter most. At any time after measurement, users can easily view analysis results on a smartphone, in another app called Skin Viewer. Changes in skin condition are graphed over the course of regular measurement, which gives insight into how the rhythms of users’ lives affect their complexion. Both apps invite users to consider the role of their lifestyle, and because the design provides a sense of progress, users may find it easier to maintain healthy skin.

Refining design through feedback

Hardware and software design were refined through constant feedback, as issues in various situations were identified and resolved in user testing. Factors affecting usability varied depending on whether the device was held by another person or by users themselves. Many mock-ups were tested, until we found the ideal design in either case – a body just the right size, with a perfectly positioned aperture and a shutter button that’s easy to press no matter which hand you use. If you hold the device yourself, the shutter button is outside your field of view. For convenience, a large virtual shutter button was added to the app used to view your face on a tablet, which makes measurement easy.

Photo of the app screen for "photographing cheek"

It proved more convenient to use the app screen as a mirror (taking advantage of the tablet’s front-facing camera), instead of using a separate mirror as we had considered initially. Usability of the moisture sensor was also improved this way. Although an early prototype illustrated how to perform this measurement, users wanted to know for certain that they were measuring correctly. Now, with the optimal measurement pressure and time displayed in the app as the sensor detects their skin, users can be confident about measuring effectively.

Feedback from testing also helped improve app design. Features were added for advisors who wanted to compare current and past measurements with customers. These results can now be viewed together, making it easier to advise customers. User interface updates responded to feedback from the field, as the design evolved to make beauty sessions more comfortable.

Making design intuitive

The system is simple and intuitive, as refined over several rounds of testing. Initially, at a special booth in an employee cafeteria, many participants had no idea how to use our early prototypes. It has evolved a lot since then. Both the hardware and the software are quite responsive, so that more people can relax and enjoy measurement.

Akita, designer

Supporting everyday health and beauty
– that’s the goal of BeautyExplorer.
Introducing a futuristic beauty experience from Sony blending
the art of design with the science of engineering.