L’Oréal Groupe’s latest beauty innovations


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Jun 12, 2023

L’Oréal Groupe’s latest beauty innovations

L’Oréal Groupe’s innovations utilise augmented reality and smart motion

L’Oréal Groupe's innovations utilise augmented reality and smart motion controls to make beauty more inclusive

A handheld metal attachment steadily applies lipstick, with sensors ‘reading’ the shape of the face and keeping the lipstick in the right place. This is HAPTA, the world's first handheld computer-controlled make-up applicator, which uses smart-motion controls so that people with limited motor skills can apply make-up more precisely.

It's one of two innovations showcased at this year's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by L’Oréal Groupe's technology incubator, alongside a groundbreaking ‘Brow Magic’ applicator, which scans a user's face using augmented reality (AR) and an inkjet printer to apply effects.

For HAPTA, L’Oréal Groupe partnered with Verily Life Sciences, which makes a self-stabilising ‘Liftware’ spoon that enables people with tremors to eat. Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oréal Groupe's Technology Incubator, reports that users of the Liftware spoon said they would love to use the technology for other tasks, too, including applying make-up.

There are an estimated 50 million people globally who live with limited fine motor skills and this makes some daily gestures, like applying makeup, challenging.

As a company that puts inclusivity at the heart of its innovation, L’Oréal Groupe launched its Global Technology Incubator in 2012. Balooch, who has headed up the division for 10 years, leads a team of more than 30 physicists, engineers, UX specialists, hardware designers and data scientists working in the United States, France, Japan and China. Their purpose is to create cutting-edge ‘Beauty Tech’ hardware and software with the values of inclusivity, sustainability and performance.

"Inclusivity is at the heart of our innovation and beauty tech strategy," says Barbara Lavernos, deputy CEO in charge of research, innovation and technology. "We are dedicated and passionate to bring new technologies powering beauty services that augment and reach every individual's ultimate desires, expectations and unmet needs."

This passion for inclusivity led to the development of HAPTA that combines built-in smart motion controls plus customisable attachments that give the user an improved range of motion, increased ease of use for difficult-to-open packaging, and precision application that is otherwise hard to achieve to help individuals feel confident, independent and empowered.

Balooch believes the roboticised HAPTA prototype, which has been in development for years but could be ready for market within 18 months, will empower some of those living with limited fine motor skills to enjoy the self-expressive power of beauty. "It's magical – you bend your arm and it goes directly to your lips," says Balooch. HAPTA is packed with sensors, and it magnetically attaches to a Lancôme lipstick, offering a full range of motion.

"We have seen people with tremors or Parkinson's, even if their hand is shaking," says Balooch, "That they have been able to apply make-up. We are really excited about this – it's about beauty for all and accessibility tech."

The second innovative augmented reality product launched by L’Oréal Groupe this year is Brow Magic, which has a similarly ‘magical’ touch. Brow Magic is a handheld, lightweight, electronic brow make-up applicator that makes recommendations for home-printed microblading and micro-shading or filler-style effects. It uses an inkjet printer, sensors and a paired app to offer an alternative to professional brow effects for home users, using artificial intelligence and augmented reality (AR) to create personalised and inclusive beauty experiences.

Users scan their face with L’Oréal Groupe's Modiface AR augmented reality app. The app then offers an assessment of the structure of the user's face (based on analysis of 700 different people around the world), and a range of suggestions of what brow shape and colour to ‘print’. Users can see a preview in a virtual ‘mirror’ in the app.

Users then put the device above their nose and swipe sideways in a smooth motion to ‘print’ a brow exactly like the one seen in the app.

"The results are like magic," Balooch. "You get results which are not easy for consumers to replicate in the home. It's about the evolving consumer need for beauty tech. That link between the physical and the digital, it's something very powerful."

As the user swipes the Brow Magic across their face, two sensors (an optical sensor and a pressure sensor) ensure the cosmetic-grade ink is delivered to the right area via the gadget's built-in inkjet printer.

"In both products, it's about a way to take us into the future of beauty," says Balooch

Balooch believes that technology offers the potential to reshape the beauty industry. "Our industry, for many centuries, has been focused on giving people the best formulas," he says. "But about 10 years ago we looked at other industries. We saw what was happening with health tech, what was happening with fitness tech. Like those industries, we’re enhancing products with value-added experiences and services."

L'Oréal Groupe is focused on inventing the future of beauty to such an extent that the company has coined the phrase ‘beauty tech’ to encapsulate its belief that technology is the future of beauty and services. Balooch's team has been showcasing beauty innovations at CES for eight years. Innovations such as a showerhead for hair salons that uses jet-fusion technology to reduce water usage, which was unveiled at CES in 2021 and is now set to roll out in 2023.

Technologies such as AI, AR and miniaturised sensors will enable personalised results for consumers, Balooch believes. "We're going to move more and more into this idea of precision beauty," he says, "this idea that we will provide precise solutions based on data that consumers have about themselves. The future of beauty is at the intersection of science, technology and creativity. Those three together will help us to create amazing innovations for the future."