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Looking pretty on the iPad with ModiFace's virtual makeup counter

July 16, 2011 |  8:00 am

Modi_face Goodbye Bloomingdale's, hello iPad. Earlier this month ModiFace Inc., a company that specializes in facial recognition technology, released Ultimate Virtual Makeover, the second iteration of its popular iPhone, iPad and Android app.

The app allows users to upload a photo of themselves and experiment with different eye shadow colors, foundations, blushes, mascaras and lipsticks. If you find a color you like, Ultimate Virtual Makeover will tell you the brand and name of the color and take you directly to the website of the makeup maker. Enter your credit card info and you just bought a new lipstick -- no trip to Sephora required.

I got to try out the app Thursday when a representative from the company came by the office. It is the most realistic-looking virtual makeover app I've seen on the market, but it didn't work as flawlessly as I hoped. As a working mom with no time to go to the mall, I'd kill to be able to try makeup on virtually and purchase online with at least an educated guess that a certain color would flatter my skin tone. But when I asked the app to allow me to test Chanel's Mademoiselle Lipstick (a current obsession I can't seem to shake), the color was not available. Next I asked the app to give me red lipsticks to sample. Only three options came up.

"For now most of our users are using the app as a game," said Nikkie Gotto, director of advanced projects for ModiFace, who flew down from the company's office in Toronto to show off the app's capabilities.

As a general time-wasting game, Ultimate Virtual Makeover makes a ton of sense. It's fun to play with -- what do I look like with neon blue eye shadow? Or purple blush? -- but until the catalogue of makeup is exhaustive, it's not necessarily a great tool for purchasing makeup. But the possibilities are endless. Imagine if a company like Sephora teamed up with ModiFace and got all of its products to be virtually testable. I'd never sleep again.

ModiFace was founded by facial recognition specialist Dr. Parham Aarabi. He used to work on defense contracts before moving into the makeup field. While my big Sephora plan has not yet come to fruition, his company has found creative ways to partner with other makeup companies using the technology. The makeup company Stila's website allows you to upload a picture of yourself and try on just its products. And the drugstore DuaneReade will have a kiosk that uses ModiFace's technology in the company's flagship store in New York. Imagine trying on a Maybelline eye shadow right at your local pharmacy -- none of those germy testers needed.

Aarabi said the Ultimate Virtual Makeover app will continue to improve over time. In the meantime, he said, his company is working on a program that will show online shoppers what dresses will look like using customer photos.

Ladies, get your credit cards out. It's a whole new virtual shopping world.


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-- Deborah Netburn

Photo credit: Courtesy of ModiFace Inc.