The product comes from a company called mySkin, which plans to launch a $150,000 Indiegogo campaign this week to fund the launch (I will update this post once the campaign is live). (Update: The campaign is live.) Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Sava Marinkovich told me that the initial version of ScanZ will be able to answer two questions about a zit - when it's going away, and what you can do to make it go away more quickly. And it can answer a more general question - whether or not you're about to break out.
Over the weekend, the mySkin team demonstrated a ScanZ prototype for me. One of them scanned one of his zits (the team seems to have an unusual attitude toward acne - they almost cheer when they find a zit, because it gives them something to test) and the app then asked some basic questions about things like diet and cleaning products used. Then it provided an estimate of when the zit would go away, along with a list of recommended actions. As users commit to following more of the app's recommendations, the estimated time until the zit's disappearance goes down, say from four days to three.
Marinkovich repeated the demo on-stage at Disrupt, as you can see in the photo below.
He said that when users are scanning their skin, ScanZ is illuminating them with different wavelengths of light, and it's using different image processing techniques to analyze what it finds, including below the skin: “We've developed most of this in-house, based on dermoscopy and spectroscopy.”
Apparently ScanZ also learns about your habits and your skin, bringing it all together in a personal “beauty map”, so its recommendations and predications are supposed to get smarter over time
I'm guessing there are a number of apps and products with dubious efficacy in this field - in fact, the Federal Trade Commission has gone after apps for falsely claiming that they eradicate acne. One way to alleviate any skepticism you might have is to consider the mySkin team, which includes Chief Science Officer Djuro Kuroga, a professor who leads the nanotechnology biomedical engineering group at the University of Belgrade, and Chief Medical Officer Jadran Bandic, who is the head of ORS Hospital in Serbia. And mySkin's advisors include Loretta Cirado, who's director of cosmetic dermatology at the University of Miami.
Plus, marketing manager Irina Simin argued that ScanZ users aren't just being asked to blindly follow a set of directions. Instead, they'll get actual data about things like scarring risk and sebum levels, so they understand what's happening and how their actions will affect their skin: “This basically tells you what is going on and you can make your own decision.”
mySkin expects to deliver its first ScanZ devices in May of next year, with a retail price of $249 (there will also be discounts for preorders). That might seem a bit steep for the teenaged audience that Marinkovich said he's aiming for. He told me he's actually expecting parents to do a lot of the buying, and he noted that SkinZ may appeal to other age groups too. (As a 30-year-old, even though I don't think that my acne is as bad as it used to be, I still worry about break outs before I go on-camera or on-stage at Disrupt.)
And this is just the first step in the company's vision. The plan is to use the technology for other skin health products, and to turn it into a platform that will allow other applications and services to access ScanZ data - Marinkovich said interested developers should reach out now.
“It's the first open imaging platform that is device-based and that people can use,” Marinkovich said. “What the Raspberry Pi is for Arduino, it's kind of like that for skin in general.”
Q & A With Judges
Q: You've raised $8 million in funding?
A: Yep, in two rounds.
Q: What's the price?
A: It will cost $249 but there's a discount of $169 for TechCrunch readers who order soon.
Q: I like the fact that everybody goes through this. Is there any other applciation of this technology?
A: Definitely. We're starting in acne which is “the highest pain point” and “an emotional issue”. Once the platform rolls out, users can download different apps that use the same device, and those apps could cover things like hair, aging, anti-aging, and hyper-pigmentation.
Q: Other brands have had success with celebrity promotions. How are you approaching that?
A: In this area, “innovation until now has been primarily a marketing innovation.” mySkin is the first with technology innovation: “The market's already primed.”
Q: How long does it take to scan? The on-stage scan took a “not insignificant” amount of time, and that was one pimple.
A: It's going to get much faster, “a second or two max.”