Clockwork in San Francisco says it offers the ‘first robot manicure for unstoppable humans’
A TikTok user has sparked an impassioned debate about automation and its impact on jobs after she got a manicure from a robot.
Elissa Maercklein uploaded footage of her futuristic beauty treatment on Monday in a clip that has since racked up more than 7 million views, 720,000 likes and 5,700 comments.
The salon, called Clockwork, has attracted plenty of attention since it opened in San Francisco last Friday, unveiling its unique contactless mani system.
The special machine works by taking pictures of a client’s nails before coating them with polish in a process that takes just 10 minutes – a fraction of the time needed for a traditional manicure.
In her video, Maercklein documents how the $8 treatment works – showing her hands strapped securely in the device as it meticulously colours her nails.
Scores of fellow TikTokers were impressed by the invention, with one writing: “So I wouldn’t have to make awkward conversation? Love it!” and another saying: “At least we don’t have to tip now.”
However, many others expressed concern at the impact such developments will have on the labour market.
One lamented: “This is kind of sad, I love my nail lady. She works so hard for her business.”
Another said: “The future is going to put so many people out of jobs. It’s cool until it’s not.”
And a third insisted: “We don’t need to let technology and machines take any more people’s jobs than they already have.”
Maercklein showed off the results
Still, other users suggested there was a place for such systems.
“This is perfect for airports like a quick thing not replacing nail techs,” one wrote.
And another mused: “Everyone saying robots are gonna take jobs: imagine a future where human labour is no longer required and wealth is distributed equally.”
Meanwhile, Maercklein said she doesn’t believe the machine could replace professional nail artists thanks to their creative and personal skills.
She stressed: “I don’t think this will replace the artistry of nail technicians but I do think for professionals and working people, it’s a really great quick option to be able to get your nails done.”
Other users agreed. One wrote: “As a nail tech this is super cool, but I get paid $70+ per appointment for a reason. My trade will never be replaced by $8 manicures that chip in two days.”
And another commented: “A manicure? You mean you got your nails painted? I didn’t see any filling, shaping or hand massaging going on here.”