Makeup color matching by cell phone

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Mobile phone, Color, Cosmetics

Hewlett-Packard is developing a system of mobile color matching
technology that promises to help consumers choose a foundation that
perfectly matches their skin tone; offering the services of a
mobile makeup advisor.

The technology, which has been two years in development, relies on the ability to analyze and correct photos for possible discrepancies caused by variation in camera type and lighting quality. The consumer just needs to take a face photo on their mobile phone whilst holding a color chart, which is then sent to the server to be analyzed and corrected. The color chart, that has been specifically designed to be particularly sensitive to skin tones, contains blocks of color with values that are known to the server. The server can then mathematically transform the image so that the colors on the chart appear as they should, at the same time correcting the complicated effects that camera type and lighting may have had on the appearance of the individual's skin color. The corrected image is then compared against a database of skin tones from almost two hundred women recruited as reference models, and the closest match chosen. HP recruited a large panel of makeup experts to choose possible foundation matches for the reference models, suggestions which are then sent to the consumer by text. The mobile color matching technology will provide 'retailers and consumer goods companies with a new, fun way to interact with customers and promote their products'​ said Nina Bhatti, principal scientist, Digital Imaging and Printing Lab, HP Labs. The company expects the technology to appeal to a wide range of customers including working women with little time to visit cosmetics counters or those too intimidated to ask for the services of a makeup advisor. Furthermore, in order to use the technology the consumer will just need a basic camera phone on any network and the color chart, which could be made available on cosmetics counters or distributed through magazines. At present HP have concentrated on the applications of the technology in the cosmetics industry however the company suggest that the technology can be applied to home decor and fashion; anything that requires reliable colour matching. HP is currently in talks with several cosmetics companies that are interested in offering the technology as a service to its customers. This is the first time Hewlett-Packard, one of the world's largest computer manufacturers, has entered into the world of cosmetics, although the new technology builds on the company's expertise in imaging and color science. It follows the recent announcement of another high-tech product from Japanese electronics company Matsushito: a hand held device based on inkjet technology that can spray controlled amounts of color cosmetics onto the face. These type of technologies aim to make cosmetic choice and application easier and more reliable for the individual consumer, suggesting the possibility of a greater role for large technology companies within the industry.

Related topics: Market Trends, Color Cosmetics

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