Commentary

Forget outsourcing, keep your eye on those computers

A new technology could do what new technologies do all the timeââ?¬â??deliver fear and promise, and generally shake up the status quo. This time the nail salon is the slice of the economy that would be affected. After all, what human could paint the Mona Lisaââ?¬â??or your portraitââ?¬â??on your fingernail? You need a computer for something like that. Sixteen year-old Marie Yamamoto opted for a tropical island and palm tree, and she seems to like it. “I’m never going to, like, a regular salon again.” That must worry salon owners and manicurists. Marie got her nails done at a kiosk in an Orange County, CA mall, but the businessman who launched the venture actually hopes salons will be his main customers. Not only that, but the computer still needs people: The $3,995 machine, developed by ImagiNail in Florida, only paints the elaborate designs on a fingernail. A human must prep the nail with a special base coat and top coat to make sure the design stays put and lasts as long as a typical manicure.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.