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ModiFace Adds ‘Virtual Nail Salon’ App

The technology allows people to try out nail shades and textures on live videos of hands.

PARIS — Trying out nail color has — virtually — never been done like this before, thanks to ModiFace’s new Virtual Nail Salon application.

Accessible through the iPhone App Store or starting Nov. 29, it allows for a photo-realistic, augmented-reality simulation of nail polish shades and textures on videos of users’ hands.

The technology functions when a camera is as close as almost two inches to as far as 1.6 feet from hands. It can identify unique hand motions and positions, too.

Parham Aarabi, founder and chief executive officer of the provider of AR and artificial intelligence technology, told WWD that the biggest challenges in creating the virtual salon were twofold.

“One is tracking, so knowing where the nails are in the video,” he explained. “Because nails — sometimes they look very similar to skin color, especially if they are not painted. It can be very hard to know exactly what is the nail boundary versus the hand boundary, the finger boundary. Also, nails can be colored or not colored. There could be different polish on them.”

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The second challenge was rendering the nail polish accurately, said Aarabi.

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Making a virtual texture seem real is always tricky. “We created a technology that can take any texture, [and it] actually renders that on the hand. One of the unique features of the app is that you can take a photo of any texture or even object, and that can actually become nail-polish art, which is very interesting and should be fun for people to try out,” said Aarabi.

The app allows ModiFace executives to see on a larger scale the impact of the Virtual Nail Salon  how well it works, its usage and what might be improved, an ongoing process.

The same steps were taken for ModiFace face- and hair-related technology, which includes live-video hair-color and makeup simulations that have been implemented on various L’Oréal brand web sites. L’Oréal Professionnel’s Style My Hair has had 3.5 million downloads year-to-date.

In March, L’Oréal acquired Toronto-based ModiFace as part of the French group’s digital acceleration strategy. ModiFace specializes in creating advanced technologies of 3-D virtual makeup, hair color and skin-diagnosis services using proprietary know-how.

ModiFace has had numerous big developments of late. In August, L’Oréal announced a long-term partnership between ModiFace and Facebook, which brings AR technology into the mainstream. Through the deal, ModiFace powers AR experiences featuring makeup brands across the L’Oréal portfolio, designed to live on the social media giant’s platform. The first was a virtual try-on experience for NYX Professional Makeup Slip Tease Full Color Lip Lacquer through Facebook’s mobile app starting in late August.

In April, Pinterest launched a beauty personalization feature powered by ModiFace’s AI technology.

Meanwhile, L’Oréal has been homing in on digital for its market efforts. ModiFace AR technology, for instance, is being rolled out to L’Oréal’s own e-commerce sites.

Online sales are growing strongly for the group. In the first nine months of this year, its e-commerce sales rose 38.3 percent on a like-for-like basis and represented 9.7 percent of L’Oréal’s overall sales.