By Donovan Thomas
Kymberlee Hill, graduating senior computer science major and co-founder of Curl IQ, will be hosting a workshop at this year’s upcoming Broccoli Con on April 25 and 26. What initially began as a research project, Curl IQ has now transformed into a passion project for Hill.
Curl IQ came about to solve a problem many black natural women face, how to properly take care of their hair. She combined her love for technology and desire for women of color to be “big, bold, and beautiful” to create the company and in the same process tackle a problem that has spanned centuries.
Curl IQ is a company that utilizes “computer vision,” a field of artificial intelligence that teaches computers how to interpret and classify images, to help its users make better and wiser decisions on hair products, regimens and stylists based upon their unique hair type. With the technology created by Hill and her partner Yemariam Mamo along with the help and supervision of Doctors Gloria Washington and Legand Burge, an individual simply takes a picture of their hair and Curl IQ instantly matches their hair type and generates a personalized list of needs, recommendations and solutions. The technology is one of kind, so much so that a University of Maryland at College Park professor that Hill approached told her that the technology was “too small of a niche” with her field. While these words were discouraging, they proved to be more motivating than otherwise.
In January, Hill received news that she would be hosting a workshop at Broccoli Con.
“Broccoli Con was almost something I admired from afar. I love everything that Broccoli Con represents. This is dope. A full-circle moment,” said Hill.
Her workshop will be on “design-thinking.”
“Technology does not work without people or a solution in mind,” said Hill.
After graduation, Hill intends to run Curl IQ full time. She received venture capital funding last summer and is in the process of securing more funding. She plans on running a pilot this summer with major retailers (that she cannot say at this time) and going on a roadshow. On Monday, April 8, Curl IQ ran a demo with the H.U. T.A.N.G.L.E.S Club, alpha testing the Curl IQ app.
Hill has not always embraced her natural curls, however. She was a self-professed “weave queen” before Howard. She recalls getting her hair “pressed” every two weeks, at her father’s volition, prior to her arrival at Howard.It took several braid jobs gone awry, a botched Dominican blowout and the encouragement and expertise of her roommate freshman year (who had been natural her entire life) for her to transition to rocking her natural hair.
Hill also credits the natural hair movement along with the women at Howard for inspiring her. She also desires users to take a holistic approach to hair care, caring for their overall health and watching what they put into their body. With Curl IQ, Hill hopes to create a space for women to not only learn how to care effectively for their own hair but also to facilitate conversations about mental, physical and spiritual health.
Curl IQ’s app is due for release by the end of May.