We all have a special relationship with our personal barber or hairstylist. There’s a certain level of trust and intimacy required to let someone consistently operate sharp instruments near our head and face. However, a global pandemic made us realize they are truly among the most important people in our lives. We need them. We. Need. Them. And one man’s ingenious invention has proven just how true that is. He built an impressive, complicated machine that gives haircuts. But the insane amount of work required to build one isn’t the main reason it’s inferior to an actual human. Nor is it the obvious safety issues and incomplete haircut it provides. It’s not even the fact that it’s basically an advanced Flowbee.
It’s the impersonal small talk.
Shane Wighton of the YouTube channel Stuff Made Here built his very own hair-cutting machine (which we first saw at Boing Boing). There are no buzzers or trimmer involved, just a pair of scissors. And a whole lot of engineering and programming skills.
Here’s the general gist of how it works. The cutting mechanism, attached to an adjustable lever, rotates around the head of the “customer.” The machine then selects hair and measures how far away it is from the person’s scalp. That way it won’t accidentally cut them. Then, a vacuum grabs the hair and sucks it up. The hair is pulled tight, just like a human would do, while a small section of locks is portioned off. Then the attached scissors snip away the exposed hair at the correct angle. The entire device is attached to a computer program that allows the user to select the haircut of their choice.
Stuff Made Here
Ultimately it was successful. The built-in safety mechanisms worked, as Wighton was never harmed, and he got a passable haircut. Passable. But there were some issues. A math error made the haircut take four times longer than it should have. The protective mechanism also stopped the machine from cutting hair near his ears.
Then of course there was the biggest issue—conversation. It wasn’t just terrible, it was heartless. Your barber or hairstylist wouldn’t be so cold if you told them your dog just died. You couldn’t trust them to hold a sharp object near your face if they were. So no, machines won’t be replacing people in barbershops and hair salons anytime soon.
But if we ever find ourselves in quarantine again we wouldn’t exactly say no to a robot cutting our hair.
Featured Image: Stuff Made Here