By  on October 19, 2011

Virtual try-on technology was born at Stanford University 11 years ago.

“It was an evolution of ideas that started with facial recognition [technology],” said ModiFace Inc.’s chief executive officer Dr. Parham Aarabi. “The goal was to look at skin and use that as identification to create a dermal analysis.”

He went on to explain that instead of using the program to find wrinkles, it began as a way to simulate what different types of dermal fillers might look like on the user.

But the idea has since been extended.

Effective visualization tools now exist within the color cosmetics realm and for apparel, too — although Aarabi contended that no ideal solution exists for the latter quite yet.

About 24 brands currently use visualization tools — including Garnier and StriVectin — which are available to users on the iPad, Facebook and retailer Web sites, among other media. Aarabi said the goal was to devise HTML-friendly apps that were compatible across platforms (research showed that Flash-based makeover tools were harder to use and not compatible with all digital mediums) — and to date, almost 20 brands use HTML-based virtual, cosmetic makeover tools.

He referred to Stila’s Web-based try-on tool, as it combined social and e-commerce functionalities, as well as e-mailing users with personalized product recommendations. There’s also a new iPhone and iPad app that provides a unique way to “paint” cosmetics on users’ faces.

As for virtual dressing rooms, Aarabi said launched a tool that addressed this, allowing consumers to share dress choices on Facebook and start a discussion with friends to get a vote on whether or not they should purchase the look.

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