New Kao Reseach and Innovation Center to Study Kansei Science, fMRI


On September 7, Kao Corp. opened a new research facility, the Beauty Research & Innovation Center, at its Odawara Complex cosmetics research and production site in Odawara City, Japan. This follows its July 2015 construction of a new factory at the same complex, bringing the total amount invested since last year in equipment and facilities for the enhancement of research and production at the Odawara Complex to ~13 billion yen (US ~$127 million). The new center will bring together all beauty research and development within the Kao Group and go beyond typical cosmetic studies. 

The Odawara Complex reportedly will have the largest range of research functions of any cosmetics research and production site in Asia. Novel features will include: an open floor plan to encourage cross-communication, magnetic resonance imagery to assess brain functions and a COCOLAB space for fundamental research on kansei science in relation to cosmetics, where people can "feel the spirit" of beauty.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Kao researchers can make visible and analyze neural processes such as emotion, affect and decision-making. Kao aims to create value in the realm of beauty that is not only grounded in deep scientific expertise, but also captivates on an emotional and sensory level.

Furthermore, the COCOLAB interactive laboratory will allow people to see and experience kansei values, i.e., beauty and emotion, which according to the company are difficult to express in language. But some have tried.

For example, according to unpublished research, the term kansei relates to the receptivity of sensation or perception stimulated in the external world through sense organs. It's about feeling, impulse or desire stimulated by sensation; sensuous desire which should be controlled by rational nature or animus quo; and sensuous cognition as a material of thinking.

With recent cosmetics research attempting to quantify emotion, they've certainly put their money in the right place—at the "heart" of the matter.

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