French cosmetics giant L'Oréal isn't wasting any time putting its new subsidiary, ModiFace, to work. On Thursday, the company launched a new tool that enables a photo-realistic augmented reality simulation of nail polish shades and textures to be accurately displayed on a user's fingers in real time.
The app offers a wide array of stock colors and textures for users to try on, but users can also come up with their own custom nail finishes from photos in their camera roll.
Running a deep learning model of more than 10,000 annotated pictures of hands, the app can identify the 3D boundaries of fingernails with precision. The app also works within a wide range of depth, from as close as 5 centimeters to up to 0.5 meters away, and is also capable of tracking a variety of hand motions and positions.
Currently, the app is iOS only, as it is based on Apple's Core ML toolkit for AI. However, ModiFace may later make an Android version via Google's ML Kit, but those plans are not on the short-term horizon, according to Parham Aarabi, the founder and CEO of ModiFace, in a statement given to Next Reality.
As its name implies, ModiFace has built its reputation on its facial recognition feature for AR try-on tools that superimpose shades of lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow on a user's face. The new nail tracking feature is a logical extension of that technology.
"We at L'Oréal and ModiFace want to pioneer this new page of the beauty industry and serve our customers with innovative services and experiences," said Lubomira Rochet, chief digital officer and executive committee member at the L'Oréal Group (and NR30 member) regarding the group's acquisition of ModiFace in March 2018.
For now, the Virtual Nail Salon app exists just as a demo, and there's no word on what possible nail polish brand integrations the company may later introduce. But when a commercial application does arrive, other cosmetic companies hoping to harness the AR tool may need to look elsewhere.
"We will honor all existing contracts, but beyond the existing contracts, we will work exclusively with L'Oreal brands and retail partners," said Aarabi.
While that might sound like a door closing for other cosmetics companies, it's really just another door opening for other AR developers who may be able to come up with a similar tool for competing brands.