Alice Chang - I used to work for CyberLink, our parent company, which is specialised in augmented reality and facial recognition technologies. A few years ago, I realized that these technologies could be adapted in order to be used on smartphones which are a much more dynamic market than personal computers. As smartphones were becoming more performant, we understood they would soon play a key role in everyone’s daily life. However, while smartphone had good cameras, the existing image editing tools were not adapted to the skyrocketing selfie trend. When edited, selfies looked fake. We wanted to improve the quality of selfies and to enable every woman to enhance her natural beauty, exactly what makeup is doing. This is why we launched YouCam Perfect, which was a huge success.
The development of YouCam Makeup was the second step. It was a natural development in order to help women to improve the quality of the pictures they send to their friends or publish on social media. This second app was much more difficult to develop than the first one because we had to apply the makeup very precisely, with nice and accurate colours. We therefore developed a colour blending technology so as the application be as realistic as possible. Thanks to this tool, the colour which is virtually applied will merge with the user’s skin tone and will look different on different faces… Furthermore, makeup application had to be accurate even if the user was moving its head. Eventually, the success of this second app went well beyond our expectations.
Premium Beauty News - Did you immediately understand you were changing the way consumers are testing products and thus disrupting the beauty industry?
Alice Chang - It was exactly what we wanted to do. However, at that very moment we had no idea of what would be the business model. From the beginning, we decided that the two apps would be free for users, because in the new economy you first have to grow your size and get the biggest share of the market. But we had no idea of what would be our income sources. We just had the intuition that augmented reality had a huge potential on smartphones!
As the YouCam Makeup app became increasingly popular among millennials, we started to make links with beauty brands and retailers. And we had impressive results. The more consumers try beauty products, the more interested they are in buying them. Trying through the app is very similar than trying the real product, that’s the main asset of YouCam Makeup: it is realistic and there is no risk no constraints in trying a wide array of products and colours!
We also developed tools so as users can try colour cosmetics in stores. Trying makeup products has always been difficult in stores, because of cost and sanitary issues. Now we provide a convenient and realistic solution.
The beauty industry is now very familiar with augmented reality technologies and we strongly contributed to that. We are now discussing with a lot of brands and we recently signed a global contract with the L’Oréal Group. It’s a win-win deal for brands or retailers, for users and for us.
We have only two years but we developed very fast!
Premium Beauty News - So far, augmented reality testing is focused on colour cosmetics, including nail colours. Do you think that new categories could be added?
Alice Chang - In the wake of our agreement with L’Oréal we are working on new developments to enlarge the range of product categories that can be tested through our apps. For instance, we’ll soon allow our users to test skin care products!
The skin analytic care tool we’ll be added into the YouCam Makeup app and will be launched globally within a few weeks. It will identify skin imperfections, targeting five issues: skin tone, spot control, wrinkle resilience, texture refinement, dark circles. The aim is to allow people to visualize how their skin is changing and improving with the use of skin care products, and also to provide them with advices.
Furthermore, we are continuously improving the app. We’ll soon launch a new 3D simulation which will allow to be get even more realistic effects with makeup which will follow the face movements. We’ll also add new features such as the possibility to try a large variety of accessories.
Recently we launched live shows in North America including Mexico. This tool aims vloggers, bloggers and brand ambassadors to promote their preferred products and viewers can shop simultaneously.
We continue to develop new tools, to innovate and to move forward. Augmented reality is a great tool to create desire for products and to help people understand what products could bring to them. Furthermore, the importance of mobile devices will continue to grow in our daily lives with a lot of new apps, including ours.