fingerprinting 2.0

Photo of my mug printed onto my fingernail: newest manicure technology

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is wrapping up. One of the big electronics trends this year is custom printing on everything. For example, adhesive “skins” that can be passed through a laser or inkjet printer make it possible for the average American to custom design graphics or photos and stick them on their cell phones, tablets, plasma TV frames, speakers and even large household appliances like refrigerators and ovens. In some ways this is humanizing and warming up cold electronic devices.

This printing craze has also extended into the tiny little billboards on the ends of our fingers: our fingernails. A new professional manicure machine from China called the ArtPro Nail Printer that costs less than $1,500 prints custom images and photos directly onto fingernails. It uses HP printer cartridges.  I tried it out for fun and had my own face laquered onto a fingernail within 5 minutes (I could have had all five fingernails done at once, but I thought that would be creepy looking at 5 mini-mes on the ends of my fingers.)

The machine, which looks like a small coke vending machine, has a touch-screen panel and camera, which snapped my photo. It also has thousands of graphic options that can be tailored via its screen. Then there’s an opening in the machine where you stick your hand and rest it. The manicurist then clamped my hand in place (I kept thinking of Audrey Hepburn sticking her hand in the lion’s mouth in Roman Holiday, and wondered if the machine might gobble my fingers). I felt nothing as the machine “printed” onto my fingernail.  Then the manicurist sealed the print job with a clear top coat of polish. It’s supposed to last a week?

This is an excellent example of several trends in America:

  • Personalizing our gadgets (primal marking of our territory and belongings)
  • Narcissism: attention-getting antics so we stand out from the masses and are remembered
  • Conversation-starters to break the ice (as we’ve lost social skills)
  • Fascination with novelty… new and different nail designs on every finger, every week
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