Identifying the right accessory for the best shaving advice
Philips and meeting customer needs, the two go hand in hand. Which makes it a joy to work with this excellent client, with whom we have a collaborative relationship going back many years. In mid-2021, Philips launched a new product: a smart shaving application that both recognizes which accessory (brush, shaver head or trimmer) is currently fitted to your shaver (handle) and gives you advice on how best to use it. In other words, a smart, connected shaver that helps you shave even closer, trim your beard even more easily and wash your skin better without skin irritation!
To learn all the project’s ins and outs, we talked to Erik Paauw, project leader for pre-development processes at Philips.
The starting point is the client’s needs
“Our category – Grooming & Beauty – develops consumer products. So it’s important always to have the customer's needs as your starting point if you hope to meet those needs as effectively as possible. In this particular case, we spent over a year developing a robust algorithm for shavers. The men in our target group are always looking for ways to shave as closely as possible (smooth, dry or wet), with minimum skin irritation. To meet this need, we’ve developed a new, intelligent shaver with a smart app that helps the user by giving them the appropriate feedback.”
The help of algorithms and mathematicians
“First off, the shaver recognizes which accessory (shaving head, brush or beard styler) is being used. Vibrations and electric current are measured in the device (the handle) and an algorithm then used to determine which accessory the person is using. The user is then coached to achieve the optimal result through feedback via the handle and via the app. For example, advice is given on the correct shaving technique: the pressure you should apply, whether it should be higher or lower, which shaving motion works best, and so on. An incorrect detection therefore leads to incorrect advice, and thus to a less close shave, more skin irritation or a less than perfectly trimmed beard. That’s the last thing we want and CQM has helped us achieve error-free accessory detection. In other words, by recognizing the accessory - ‘unit recognition’ - and providing the right advice, we can now give people a personalised shaver. So if they want, we can coach the user step by step through his shaving process.”
“In addition, we’ve taken into account all kinds of developments that may occur over the device’s lifetime. For example, how does wear-and-tear or battery lifetime affect the advice? After all, the application must obviously provide specific and appropriate coaching not only now, but in the future. So to avoid any unpleasant surprises, CQM has included an element of risk assessment to ensure the algorithm works as accurately as possible and remains futureproof.”
Light at the end of the tunnel
“I love working on these kinds of pre-development projects. You start by mapping out the needs of the customer, doing research, understanding the problems they encounter, and really getting under the user’s skin. These are projects that take a while, but the results are often astounding. During a preliminary phase like this, statistics are crucial. You need to know what effect something is going to have, and the tests you carry out must ultimately also be applicable to a larger target group. Before a product is launched, everything has to be in order, down to the last detail. That means lots of testing, weeding out all the bugs, and learning a lot by trying things out a lot. But ultimately, every developer suffers from tunnel vision. So it’s good to have an external party who looks at what you are actually doing and asks those oh-so-glaring questions. And who can look beyond that. CQM helps us through this entire test period and as a result there’s always light at the end of the tunnel (vision).”
Gateway to knowledge
“I’d advise anyone wanting to steer a project through their organisation successfully to work with these wonderful people at CQM. They’re extremely engaged in your project and feel like colleagues, yet retain that critical perspective to ensure a higher quality end result. They also give you a gateway to knowledge. This means you don't have to reinvent the wheel, as they provide the right tools and happen also to be very pleasant people to work with. One great added value of CQM is the size of their toolbox, and the speed and efficiency with which they use it. You pay for this service, of course; but it in turns pays dividends in terms of speed and quality!”
“Following thousands of measurements and multiple verifications, we were ready for the launch midway through 2021 — and it was a success. CQM has helped us detect very accurately which accessory is on the shaver, and then translate this information into 'OK, I’ve got a brush, but how can I best use it?', with the goal that every user receives the right advice. Launching a smart product means continuous development. Together with CQM, we’ve made a strong start and will be continuously improving to ensure we always offer our consumers the best. And in this, another part of Philips whom CQM have also supported will be helping us enormously: by analysing our Reviews & Ratings, so we can understand the customer even better and improve our products accordingly.”
Also want to launch a new product with the right algorithms behind it?
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