Filling the cracks – can skin care catch up in the augmented reality race?

Filling the cracks – can skin care catch up in the augmented reality race?

As we highlighted last week, augmented reality has well and truly arrived in the color cosmetics sphere, with Sephora and ModiFace’s partnership pushing the boundaries of the technology with live tutorials, Estée Lauder teaming up with YouCam and FakeCake launching GlamScout. But AR isn’t just for make-up – the hair color category has embraced it too with Clairol launching MyShade at the close of last year. So why, over in the skin care arena, has all been suspiciously quiet?

Okay, so ModiFace is on it, as you’d expect from the world’s no.1 AR developer. It delivered a skin health app back in 2015 and followed up in fall last year with an artificial intelligence-based live video skin simulation tool, which can identify problem areas and make product recommendations for users to try out in real time. The tech company claimed on its launch in September that several brands were in the ‘final stages’ of launching applications powered by the AI technology.

And P&G unveiled Olay Skin Advisor in the US at the back-end of 2016, rolling it out across Europe through January and February this year. “Shopping for skin care has never been more overwhelming, as women are faced with thousands of products and promises,” said Dr Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist for Olay on the launch. “Olay’s research shows that browsing the shelf is the #1 purchase influencer for women, yet a third of women do not find what they are looking for. We saw an opportunity to help women understand their skin better than ever, before they even step foot in the store. Our solution is Olay Skin Advisor, which uses artificial intelligence to deliver a smart skin analysis and personalized product recommendation, taking the mystery out of shopping for skin care products.”

Meanwhile, the potential of AR in the skin care arena was further explored at in-cosmetics Global this spring, with Sederma pulling the crowds in with an interactive mirror, designed to pull the visitor into its ‘Matrixyl Wonderland‘ to witness the accelerated ageing of their face, and then experience the rejuvenating effect of its active Matrixyl Morphomics.

Perhaps the reason skin care has stood back this far is exactly because the technology is in its infancy, and only now are sophisticated skin analysis tools available – after all, diagnostics is a whole different ball game to trying on a lippy. Now the tech is here, expect to AR and AI-based skin care app launches to snowball.

“AI is not a technology of the future – it’s transforming our world today,” said Greg Estes, Vice President of Developer Programs at NVIDIA, whose GPU-accelerated deep learning platform was used to train Olay Skin Advisor’s neural network. “Olay and other leading brands are using AI to infuse devices and apps with intelligence, bringing new experiences, unprecedented personalization and real benefits to people’s lives.”

And that’s perhaps the crux of the matter, while FaceApp-style photo manipulation tech is good for a laugh or two, if AR is to flourish in the skin care arena it needs to bring something to the table – just like those all-important ingredients. This is not a gimmick, we repeat, this is not a gimmick.