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Image credit: Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Olay's electromagnetic face wand turns skincare into a mobile game

The FaceNavi Smart Wand touches your face to clear it up.
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Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Olay's FaceNavi Smart Wand isn't a magic solution for perfect skin, but it is pretty fun. The Smart Wand is a handheld device that uses electromagnetic pulses to transform a singular Olay face cream into a multi-use product, able to treat puffiness, wrinkles, sagging, discoloration, uneven skin and other conditions in one fell swoop.

Gallery: Olay's FaceNavi Smart Wand hands-on | 13 Photos

In an ideal situation, I'd use the Smart Wand at home as part of my bedtime skincare routine, after washing away my makeup. However, that wasn't about to happen in the middle of a crowded convention hall at CES, so I tested the wand without the washing or the cream.

The process starts on the Olay Skin Advisor mobile app -- enter your name and birth year, and snap a selfie. The app asks if you have any areas you're particularly concerned about (dark circles, sagging skin, wrinkles, etc.), and then tells you how old your skin looks. I'm 30, and I'm fairly pleased to report the app read my skin as 28 (with makeup on, that is).

The app itself uses machine learning to read each face and pop out an accurate reading of age and problem areas. An Olay representative assured me the system doesn't lowball or highball estimated ages to give users a shot of endorphins or send them on a shame-induced spending spree. It's all in the algorithm.

FaceNavi Smart Wand

The Skin Advisor app then opens up in selfie mode, but this time with AR stickers. Spots of color appear on your face, indicating specific issues. Here's where the cream and the wand come in: Slather your face in the associated Olay cream, pair the wand with your phone, and get to work. Pressing the metal slope of the wand to your face makes it vibrate slightly; as you swipe it over different color zones, the electromagnetic pulses change, making the cream react with your skin in different ways. On-screen, the color blocks fade as the wand hits them, little stars shooting out to indicate a job well done.

Olay's goal with the Smart Wand is to replace a half dozen creams, balms, scrubs and sprays that some people use at the end of the day. I'm not sure if it actually accomplishes this goal, but using the wand is satisfying, and its subtle vibrations are soothing. In the worst case scenario, the FaceNavi Smart Wand is fairly calming and indulgent, if not downright fun, to use.

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