Discover more from Arkinfo Notes
I Am Sick of Shaving My Face! Can AI Help?
Rewiring our Perspective on Narrow AI & its Utility with the help of an AI Barber
Of all the useless regular activities that life may impose on us, the worst (at least for me) is shaving my face. I could lose my job, a tooth and my macbook, all in the same day, and still the worst thing to happen to me that day will be the part where I have to shave my face.
Given my disdain for this brain-drain of an activity, I assure you I am not one of those regular shaving weirdos (with all due deference to regular shaving weirdos), but even doing it once a week so people don’t confuse me for a “mountain man” is unacceptable to me.
And as a self-respecting modern day programmer who makes AI do pretty much all the heavy lifting for me, I can’t fathom why no one has thought of outsourcing shaving to a robot!
The AI Barber v1.0
The artwork above, says it all. Our problem is not that we don’t want an AI to shave our face. Our problem is that we want AI to do everything all at once. We don’t just want a barber, we want a barber who is also the cook, the cleaner, and the butler.
Our obsession with building general purpose AI technologies, while quite fruitful in the case of LLMs such as ChatGPT, is hindering our progress in AI-enabled robotics.
So in this article, I thought of venting out my frustrations into a hypothetical project that I hope will be a motivation for my fellow engineers to reconsider the utility and value in building Narrow AI robotics. Ladies and Gentlemen, say hello to my latest (hypothetical) invention: The AI Barber.
So why the AI Barber?
The reasons for choosing such a project are:
It is a perfect blend of robotics and AI.
It is Narrow in its approach.
And it is ridiculous enough to help me grab your attention and help convey the underlying theme of the article.
Here’s a breakdown of the hardware:
Utility: Provides stability to the entire structure.
Weighted for firm placement on surfaces.
Houses touch control for intuitive user operation.
2. Adjustable Vertical Rod
Utility: Acts as the main support and adjustable height mechanism.
Contains internal wiring for power and communication.
Ensures adaptability for users of varying heights.
3. Circuitry Housing & Rotation Cylinder (Top Cylinder)
Utility: The brain of the device.
Contains all essential circuitry, processors, and control mechanisms.
Rotates 360°, enabling wide motion range for the attached hand rod.
4. Front Camera
Utility: The "eyes" of the AI.
Positioned centrally for an unobstructed view.
Aids in precision navigation, mapping facial contours, and detecting areas of hair growth.
5. Adjustable Hand Rod
Utility: Facilitates movement towards various facial areas.
Swings, pivots, and rotates, covering all facial contours.
Connects to the main cylinder, operated by servo motors for controlled movement.
6. Hand Movement Belt
Utility: Ensures smooth transitions and stability for the hand rod.
Offers additional support and guidance.
Prevents abrupt movements, enhancing shaving precision.
7. Servo Motors
Utility: Provides precise angular movement.
One for adjustable hand movement around the top cylinder.
Another for controlling razor/trimmer angle and positioning.
8. Detachable Trimmer & Guard
Utility: Delivers the core shaving function.
Precision blades for efficient hair cutting.
Guards offer user customisation, ensuring desired hair length and style.
Internal Circuitry & Sensors
Okay, now to the brains!
1. Microcontroller (MCU)
Utility: Acts as the brain of the device.
Processes data from sensors.
Controls servo motors, camera, and other components.
Manages device behaviour based on programmed algorithms and real-time inputs.
2. Front Camera Module
Utility: Provides visual data to the AI.
High-resolution sensor for clear facial mapping.
Infrared capabilities for detecting contours in varying light conditions.
Assists in real-time navigation and precision shaving.
3. Tactile Sensors
Utility: Detects physical contact and pressure.
Positioned around the trimmer area.
Provides feedback on skin contact and adjusts pressure accordingly.
Ensures safety by detecting undue pressure and potentially harmful angles.
4. Gyroscope & Accelerometer
Utility: Monitors device orientation and movement.
Ensures the device maintains its position relative to the face.
Aids in making swift adjustments if any unexpected movement occurs.
5. Proximity Sensors
Utility: Measures the device's closeness to the face.
Ensures the trimmer doesn't go beyond a safe distance.
Helps avoid nicks and cuts.
6. Thermal Sensors
Utility: Monitors device temperature.
Prevents overheating, ensuring user safety.
Triggers alerts or shut-down mechanisms if temperature thresholds are exceeded.
7. Power Management Circuitry
Utility: Oversees battery consumption and power distribution.
Optimises power use based on active components.
Ensures prolonged battery life and consistent performance.
8. Wireless Communication Module
Utility: Enables device updates and user customisation.
Facilitates software updates over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Allows user to set preferences or access advanced features via a companion app.
9. Memory Modules
Utility: Stores data and software algorithms.
Houses facial data, user preferences, and shaving routines.
Keeps track of past operations for continuous improvement and customisation.
The AI & Software
Alright, so as the saying goes, “people who truly love hardware build their own software (or is it the other way? 🤔)” . That’s how I remember it so let’s just roll with it for now.
1. Facial Recognition and Mapping AI
Identifies distinct facial features (jawline, cheekbones, nose, lips).
Maps the contours of the face to guide shaving/trimming paths.
Adapts to different face shapes and sizes.
2. Image Processing Algorithms
Processes real-time visuals from the front camera.
Detects differences in hair density, length, and growth patterns.
Guides the device to navigate the beard/moustache region with precision.
3. Machine Learning Models
Continuously learns from each shaving session to improve accuracy.
Uses Reinforcement Learning to understand user preferences and optimise shaving patterns.
Adapts to changes in user's facial hair and style preferences over time.
4. Safety Protocols & Algorithms
Processes feedback from tactile, proximity, and thermal sensors to ensure user safety.
Prevents nicks, cuts, or burns by making real-time adjustments.
Implements emergency stops or retracts blade when unusual pressure or rapid movements are detected.
5. User Interface (UI) & User Experience (UX) Design
Provides an intuitive interface on the device's touch control.
Allows customisation of shaving routines, length settings, and user profiles.
Offers feedback, battery status, and device health diagnostics.
6. Data Storage and Management
Safely stores user profiles, facial data, and custom shaving routines.
Encrypts sensitive data for user privacy.
Enables retrieval of past sessions for continuous AI improvement.
7. Wireless Communication Protocol
Supports Over-The-Air (OTA) software updates.
Enables synchronisation with a companion mobile app for additional features.
Allows remote troubleshooting and customer support.
8. Feedback and Calibration Module
Enables users to provide feedback post-shaving.
Adjusts AI models based on feedback for future sessions.
Calibrates the device's movements and settings as needed.
9. Power Management Software
Optimises battery consumption based on active modules and tasks.
Ensures energy-efficient operations and signals users when charging is required.
10. Companion Mobile App Integration
Offers extended features like style recommendations, advanced customisation, and tutorials.
Allows users to track their shaving history, preferences, and even set reminders.
Subscribe today for FREE to get more such fun & interesting articles on technology & science.
The Multi-Modal Database Scheme
Yes, I have seriously thought through this project! I even have a database schema in mind.
1. Facial Images & Videos Database
Data Types: High-resolution color images, infrared images, and short video clips.
Train facial recognition models.
Understand different skin tones, hair types, beard densities, and growth patterns.
2. Facial Contour & Landmarks Database
Data Types: 3D scans, depth maps, annotated images highlighting facial features.
Train the device to navigate complex facial structures.
Ensure precision shaving around sensitive areas like the lips, nostrils, and jawline.
3. Tactile Feedback Database
Data Types: Pressure readings, touch duration, surface texture readings.
Train the AI to adjust pressure and angle in real-time.
Differentiate between skin surface, hair density, and unusual protrusions (like acne).
4. User Feedback & Preferences Database
Data Types: Text inputs, star ratings, preference settings.
Continuously refine and personalize shaving routines.
Understand common issues, user likes, and dislikes.
5. Audio Feedback Database
Data Types: Voice notes, recorded feedback, ambient noise recordings.
Potentially add voice command features in the future.
Understand user reactions and feedback in real-time.
6. Safety Incidents Database
Data Types: Error codes, logs of abrupt stops, tactile sensor readings during incidents.
Improve safety protocols.
Train the AI to predict and avoid potential safety issues.
And here’s the list of AI algorithms that we could use.
Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs):
For facial image recognition and processing.
Analyse video data to understand shaving techniques from tutorials.
Reinforcement Learning (RL):
Optimise the shaving path and device movements.
Learn from each session to enhance performance over time.
Decision Trees and Random Forests:
Make real-time decisions based on sensor data.
Useful for safety protocols and emergency responses.
Natural Language Processing (NLP):
Analyse and categorise textual feedback.
Potentially process voice commands or audible feedback.
Time Series Analysis:
Monitor battery consumption patterns.
Predict device maintenance needs or potential failures.
And there you go, we have created your perfect AI shaving solution!
Open Source Licensing (Just FYI)
If you are thinking of stealing my robot (or the idea/design of it), go for it! Here are two reasons why:
I am happy to share these flights of fancy with you guys and if any of you ever accomplish building this (or something better), all I ask is you share the Beta with me so I can officially give you my blessing (or a legal notice depending on my mood).
This design is so elementary, it is bound to crash anyway. I am no dummy (as far as I know).
So what did we learn?
The journey of conceptualising the AI Barber was not just a whimsical dive into the world of futuristic grooming. It served a purpose - to challenge our perceptions, broaden our horizons, and understand the profound implications of AI and robotics.
1. AI is Not Just a Knowledge Work Tool: The AI Barber is a testament to the vast applications of artificial intelligence. While the tech world often lauds AI for its analytical prowess, it’s essential to remember its practicality in day-to-day tasks. Specialised AI, such as our barber, can offer unique solutions tailored to specific problems.
2. Simplicity is Key in Robotics: We often dream of multipurpose robots, ones that can brew coffee while discussing Plato. However, the real breakthroughs in robotics might come from addressing simpler challenges. Why aim for an all-purpose housemaid robot when a specialised family barber could be more feasible and immediately impactful?
3. Robots Needn't Mirror Humans: The AI Barber is neither a humanoid nor a Hollywood-inspired android. It’s a machine, designed with functionality in mind. Just as a Tesla, an AI-powered marvel, doesn’t engage in small talk, our robots don’t need human-like appearances to be effective. Function should guide form, not the other way around.
4. Breaking Traditions: Through this exercise, we’ve learned the importance of stepping outside traditional boxes. Our AI Barber doesn’t just challenge the status quo of grooming; it encourages us to rethink robotics' very nature.
5. The Blend of AI & Hardware: An effective robot is a marriage between software and hardware. The AI Barber’s design, combined with its intelligent algorithms, exemplifies this. It serves as a reminder that robots are as much about physical components as they are about code.
The AI Barber is more than just a quirky device; it’s a lens to view the potential of AI and robotics. Through this exploration, I’ve gained insights, questioned norms, and, most importantly, (hopefully) ignited your imagination. Always remember that innovation is as much about creativity as it is about code.
Now, onto my next big idea:
Don’t be a grinch, subscribe now!