Hewlett-Packard an old giant in the technology world, announced today a new mobile technology that is all about helping a girl (some guys) get that perfect shade of makeup. With the help of mobile-phone cameras, shoppers that require color coordination can now find the best products.
"HP Labs, the company’s central research arm, has developed a technology that uses sophisticated imaging algorithms and mobile networking to match colors that complement one another, including makeup specific to skin coloring."
-Via HP Labs
Behind mobile color-matching is a combination of both old and new HP technology. The application uses existing HP face-detection software and draws on HP's long experience with color science.
But researchers also pushed the frontiers of color science to make color calibration much more sensitive to skin colors. And they developed the statistical training and processing system that tells you what skin pixels constitute what foundation color from scratch.
Identifying the right shade of makeup may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about using your mobile phone.
It wasn't the first thing researchers at HP Labs imagined, either.
But thanks to their expertise in color science, imaging and mobile communications, they created a novel color-matching technology that turns any camera-equipped phone into a mobile beauty advisor.
Instead of sitting down with a consultant at a beauty counter – or puzzling over similar-looking shades in the store – consumers take their own photos and send these via MMS (multimedia message) to a backend computer system. The system locates the consumer's face within the image and corrects color the image for camera and lighting discrepancies.
The image is then compared to an existing database of previously captured and analyzed images of skin tones of real people. In a matter of seconds, the consumer receives a text message response, with a recommendation on the shade of foundation that best matches her complexion.
Why foundation? Because getting your foundation right is the hardest part of the whole makeup conundrum. And it's the most unforgiving when you get it wrong.
How, then, to provide cosmetics consulting via mobile phone?
The somewhat daunting problem, Bhatti says, was to determine
how to make a precise color judgment from a digital picture of a face taken by any kind of camera under any kind of illumination — especially when both the type of camera and the lighting used can dramatically alter face color in a photograph.
Researchers solution: include in each photograph a small reference chart containing blocks of color with known color values. This chart is designed to be very sensitive to skin colors. (Shoppers hold the card next their faces when taking the photo.) When HP receives each image, it scans the picture to automatically find the chart.
"We know what colors the chart is supposed to be," explains Bhatti, "and so we can mathematically transform the image to correct it. When we do that, we also correct the skin tone."
For more information visit: HP Labs