Cosmetics giant L’Oreal buys AR beauty company ModiFace

Cosmetics juggernaut L’Oreal has bought Modiface, the Canadian augmented reality (AR) beauty company that powers the makeup filters on the Galaxy S9‘s Bixby Vision.

We’ve had our eye on ModiFace for some time now, since it first looked into the tech in December 2015. Interest in using AR to see physical changes on one’s face in real time has exploded in the last year, with ModiFace’s software coming to both iOS and Android. The tech works similarly to Snapchat’s filters, applying a layer of makeup directly over your face’s image on your screen, and tracking your head movements in real-time so you can see your digital makeover from multiple angles.

ModiFace’s tech rapidly became industry-leading, powering multiple AR makeup apps, including those by Sephora and Benefit. With the Galaxy S9‘s Bixby Vision featuring this tech as well as the ability to buy the makeup you “try on,” it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the cosmetics world is taking a strong interest in the potential of AR.

This isn’t L’Oreal’s first foray into tech-savvy business — the company previously launched a smart brush that told users how to care for their hair, and recently showcased wearable tech that warned wearers when they’ve had enough sunlight. L’Oreal has also worked with ModiFace in the past, when the two companies collaborated on L’Oreal’s “Style My Hair” tool, which allowed users to see the effect of different hair dyes.

L’Oreal, along with other cosmetics companies, has long been curious of the application of AR in advertising cosmetics when combined with increasing online sales and social media marketing. MAC’s Virtual Try-On Mirror is one example of the tech being used in this way.

The amount that L’Oreal paid for ModiFace has not yet been disclosed, but given L’Oreal now spends 38 percent of its marketing budget on digital campaigns and the broad application of ModiFace’s tech, it’s unlikely that it skimped on the purchase.

“With ModiFace we’ve acquired … the stock of inventions they’ve already created, but more than that, the ability to look at reinventing the beauty experience in the years to come,” L’Oreal’s chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet said.

L’Oreal’s acquisition of ModiFace is likely to be a major blow to other manufacturers who have previously used ModiFace’s technology in their own apps and websites.

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