L'Oreal's 3D Skin Research Could Benefit Cosmetics And Healthcare Industries

Animal lovers everywhere will be pleased with the news that French cosmetics company L'Oreal is developing 3D printed skin technology that could be used in the testing of its products - and of course it has some non-cosmetic applications, too.

As Net Imperative reports, bio printing startup Organovo has been developing skin samples for some time now, producing over 100,000 a year and working with pharmaceutical company Merck to print kidneys and live tissues.

However, until now the samples have been made using donated tissue from plastic surgery operations in France, which is sliced thinly and made into cells. Over the next five years, L'Oreal wants to speed up this process by automating skin production and 3D printing active, breathing derma capable of testing for toxicity in the same way as human - or animal - skin.

This is the first time that 3D skin printing technology has crossed over into the cosmetic arena. As Guive Balooch - global VP of L'Oreal's tech incubator - explains, L'Oreal is the first beauty company that Organovo has worked with.

The beauty giant will provide initial funding as well as their own skin knowledge for the research, which will take place at Organovo's labs and L'Oreal's new research center in California.

Commenting on the partnership, Organovo expressed in a statement that it "will not only bring about new advanced in vitro methods for evaluating product safety and performance, but the potential for where this new field of technology and research can take us is boundless."

The project is still said to be in the "early stage of research," but medical experts are already hopeful about its applications for the healthcare sector, as it could be used to generate supplies of spare skin for victims of burn accidents.

The Evolution Of Robots

Robots and technology are going to transform the way companies do business, who they hire and how they turn a profit in the future - there seems to be no escaping that fact. They are already beginning to infiltrate certain factory floors and are already, in some sense, part of our everyday lives (Siri, for example). But where does the future of robotic technology lie?

Those who are scared robots will soon be taking human jobs need not fear - according to an article on the Popular Science website, without the use of the human brains robots will not be able to get much smarter than they are currently. Humans have the ability to teach robots new skills, but it is still the human brain that they require to evolve in this way. 

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the US have created a RobotsFor.Me site, which allows users to log in and use their collective mind to teach the robots at the lab new skills. The site has been made into a game so that users collect points depending on how many new skills they can teach the robots - picking up objects is one such task. However, the users are unaware as to what the robots actually look like or what they are doing; they aren't provided with a robots-eye view of the tasks being performed and they haven't been trained to use the robots first-hand. They simply lend their brainpower to the task at hand.

This will all form part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) at the beginning of next month where the world's most advanced robots will be showcased and put to the test with various tasks, specifically in helping out when natural disasters strike. So, whilst robots may not yet be capable of performing tasks to the same ability as humans without the need of their brain power, by teaching them we could soon have capable robot helpers for when we need them most.

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Intelligent Mobile Commerce Apps, Robots and Speed

In 2002, I was developing mobile applications for blue collar workers. These apps were not intelligent. They were basically forms on handheld computers or PDAs. Yes, they could be made to understand, based on data inputs, which form(s) should be presented next, but that was about as smart as they got. In those days, mobile apps were mostly used to query a simple database and for field data collection and sync.

Today, mobile apps on smartphones and tablets are the UXs (user interfaces) for very complex and intelligent systems, many of which today depend on software robots for automation and speed. On a side note, yesterday, while I was attending a M6 Mobility Xchange conference, Intel said us humans are becoming part of the computer!

Mobile users are impatient. They will wait less than 4 seconds on average for a mobile app to load, before closing it and moving on. You would hate to have developed the world's best designed mobile application, but then have mobile consumers abandon it because some transaction engine, integrated product catalog or mobile security system made the process too slow.

Let me provide a scenario - a person uses a retailer's mobile application that is associated with a loyalty program. The millisecond they load the application, software robots on the backend identify the device, look at all the accumulated data about the user's profile, transaction history, demographics, preferences, styles, etc., analyzes it, and then create a personalized experience which is uploaded to the mobile application. No human is involved, but the experience is fast, beautiful and personal. The products and discounts are optimized to appeal to my preferences. It is an automated process that uses software robots to analyze and act in milliseconds. This process is far more sophisticated and complex than the processes I used in 2002.

In 2002, to speed up a process we looked at just a few areas: the selected mobile device, wireless networks, device memory and the size of the database queries. Today, entire business processes are being impacted and companies are being forced to rethink operations. Legacy IT systems are being asked to perform at speeds beyond their capabilities. Mobile solutions today, are as much about the backend servers, processes, robots and strategies, than the mobile app.

The pressure to digitally transform and automate IT environments is growing. Mobile applications, at first just clever add-ons to line of business applications, are now driving the train of digital transformation and pointing the way to the future for the entire enterprise. The cost of a mobile application, may ultimately involve rethinking your entire IT environment.

As consumers increasingly shop online and mobile, competition will force businesses to redesign not only their IT environments, but their entire approach to marketing, sales, customer service and R&D as well.