How a Beauty Tech Startup Uses AI to Match Faces to Products – The Information

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For years, Hannah Williams’ go-to selfie app has been YouCam Makeup. Before the 25-year-old cashier from Morgantown, W.Va., posts a self-portrait on Instagram, she’ll run the photo through YouCam’s augmented reality filters to whiten her teeth, remove stray pimples and even out her complexion. In recent months, she’s played with the app’s cat-eye eyeliner, used its AR hair filter to recreate herself with red and purple hair, and contoured her face for her Bumble profile.

Williams said she’s gotten a lot of value out of the app: It makes her look “snapped,” she said. But each of Williams’ selfies adds even more value to Perfect Corp., YouCam’s Taiwan-based parent company. Backed by investors including Snap, Chanel, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Alibaba Group Holding, Perfect Corp. consumers and brands sophisticated trial tools, essentially AR filters that allow customers to virtually test beauty products from the comfort of their own homes. For as little as $399 a month, Perfect Corp.’s artificial intelligence platform — trained on hundreds of millions of faces like Williams’ — can analyze users’ skin quality, match the exact shade of their skin to a corresponding product, and overlay cosmetics and fashion accessories. And soon the program can even sense users’ personality traits.

It is this last feature that presents several dystopian possibilities. Recently, Perfect Corp. launched an AI Personality Finder that promises to read your facial features to get clues about what kind of person you are – and by extension, what kind of products you can buy. Excited (if a little unnerved), I took a selfie and ran it through the online demo. Five seconds later it spit out a profile based solely on the arrangement of my face. According to Personality Finder’s algorithm, the distance between my nose and mouth, combined with my rounded cheekbones, hooded eyes and other facial features, identified me as an enthusiastic, action-oriented and social person. I scored 95% for extraversion, 21% for neuroticism and 63% for conscientiousness.

That data, when fed into Perfect Corp.’s recommendation engine—licensed by companies as diverse as Google, Meta and Aveda—then turned up a variety of generic cosmetics. (The demo program does not currently sync with specific brands.) Apparently, my personality algorithmically matches red lipstick, brow pencil, and goddess and purple perfume. These products are placeholder suggestions for future corporate customers, but it’s easy to imagine them being replaced with real items from existing customers like L’Oréal, Macy’s, Estée Lauder or Nars. And Perfect Corp. clearly has ambitions far beyond helping sell lip liners and blushes.

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