Nailing new technology

Attention, Target shoppers: Robots are giving $10 manicures at 3 Dallas-Fort Worth stores

Attention, Target shoppers: Robots give $10 manicures at 3 DFW stores

Clockwork robot manicures Target
Sit down and have a manicure on your next run for Diet Coke and Clorox Wipes. Photo courtesy of Clockwork
Clockwork robot manicures Target
The high-tech robots take pictures of your nail. Photo courtesy of Clockwork
Clockwork robot manicures Target
Voila! Pretty nails. Photo courtesy of Clockwork
Clockwork robot manicures Target
Clockwork robot manicures Target
Clockwork robot manicures Target

In a handy development for busy, budget-conscious, beauty-minded shoppers, Target has deployed a futuristic robot to give manicures inside three Dallas-Fort Worth stores.

Called Clockwork, the system is touted as the world's first fully autonomous nail-painting robot and is now up and running at Dallas' Target Medallion (6464 E NW Hwy.),  Target Fort Worth Central (301 Carroll St.) and Target Cityview (5700 Overton Ridge Blvd.). 

"Dallas and Fort Worth locals can now enjoy convenient, stylish manicures while perusing the store's coveted beauty aisles through the Clockwork x Target partnership," the company says in a release.

DFW is the third test-market for Clockwork, behind cities in Minnesota and California, and they have plans for expansion, a spokeswoman says.

The Clockwork manicures, dubbed "minicures," are nail-painting sessions — don't expect them to file your nails or push your cuticles — that take 10 minutes and cost $10. No tipping necessary.

"Clockwork uses AI and 3D technology to effectively paint the nails in under 10 minutes, giving customers a quick yet high-quality polish change without slowing them down on an already busy day," the release promises.

Here's how it works: You book and pay for appointments online. Explore polish colors here.

Then arrive with clean and bare nails, ready to be polished. (They provide nail polish remover to get regular lacquer off but cannot do gel removal right now.) The polish used is non-gel, regular polish "free of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde and Toluene, and a number of other harmful substances," they say.

Clockwork founder Renuka Apte told CNN the nail-painting technology works like this:

To paint your nails, Clockwork’s machines rely on cameras, data, and algorithms. You place a digit on a finger rest and slide it into the machine, where two cameras rapidly take about 100 pictures of the nail. Apte said those images are used to create a 3-D point cloud showing the shape of the nail, and this data is used to figure out where the edges of your nail are located. This information is then used by algorithms that figure out things such as how (and how fast) the machine’s polish-dispensing pipette should move to apply paint to your nail. 

The robot's not as perfect as a skilled manicurist; the same CNN reporter said, "The first time I visited, the pipette that pushes out polish appeared to clog after painting a few nails, and several of my nails were painted so poorly around the edges that the machine’s attendant fixed them by hand. It took about 20 minutes to complete a coat in a honey-yellow hue, which is twice as long as the company’s goal."

And one might imagine it's not nearly as relaxing as a salon manicure from a human being who massages your arms and makes sure your wine glass stays full.

But the company makes clear that the aim here is convenience, not luxury, stating, "Whether the busy Target shopper wants to feel more put together or feminine before their next meeting, play with fun polish colors, or quickly get their nails painted while out and about, the Clockwork x Target partnership aims to create new ways for on-the-go beauty enthusiasts to indulge in self-care."

Customers must be at least 13 years old to use the service. Booking appointments is encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome if there's availability, and will be guided through the process by an attendant.

Packages of three manicures are available for $24. Shoppers in DFW can use the promo code BIGTEX for $2 off their first visit.