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Pigments are important in personal care products but vital in the creation of cosmetics. Foundation specifically is a challenge in terms of pigment selection since there are innumerable skin tones around the world. Although the formulator may have a tough time determining the right amount of pigment, the consumer, perhaps, has it tougher trying to choose a foundation that suits them.
The Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), known for its computer, printer and digital imaging technology, is using what it knows about pigments and applying it to color cosmetics, specifically foundation. The company recently announced it has created a mobile imaging technology to assist consumers in choosing the correct shade of foundation—via a camera phone.
Nina Bhatti, PhD, principal scientist at HP labs, headed the project, which was initiated by a customer need. “You do not typically think HP would be focused on the world of cosmetics, but one of our customers is in the field of cosmetics and was looking for something that appealed to a younger demographic,” said Bhatti. She therefore developed a technology offering women a mobile beauty advisor to assist them in selecting foundation.
The color match technology, still in prototype, uses sophisticated imaging algorithms and mobile networking to match colors, explained Bhatti. The process begins with the consumer snapping an image of their face next to the company’s color palette display at the store. The consumer then sends the image to the HP system, which searches through a database of skin colors to locate a perfect match.
Bhatti explained that by snapping the image of the consumer’s face next to the color palette in the store, the technology accounts for that particular camera’s interpretation of color of both their face and the color palette; thus the system can more accurately match a foundation to the face. Although this process may seem simple, it is the technology on HP’s side that allows the system to find the perfect foundation.