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Merging into augmented human



 Correctly folded T-shirts on the shelves and make-up in the displays are already slightly covered with dust. The saleswomen who always wear a smile on their face are now full of boredom. Customers are mostly shopping from home but miss the support they get in physical stores. Especially when buying cosmetics. We want to try it on but how can we do it from home?


︎︎︎SHANNON ORIE / TECHNOLOGY


TAILOR MADE BEAUTY

Even if Augmented Reality filters may seem like a threat against the cosmetic industry, it gives customers an opportunity to see how make-up will suit their face. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic where we couldn’t even use a cosmetic tester in store. We're spending an insane amount of time online, it could also be a smart tool to help customers buy more easily.

A company called Beauty labs is an independent technology company, which is looking for brands and products that understand who they are and what they stand for in a personalized and interactive way. In their research they came to the conclusion that 77% of the consumers have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.

They offer their own “Enhanced Reality Engine” which will seamlessly augment everything you can see, hear and touch. They provide brands a new channel to reach their audience. Their website visualises how the “Enhanced Reality Engine” works. It scans your face and hair color, so you can try new hair looks and make-up. It will even capture your facial response to the preferences, so they know what you like and not. If you like the total look, you can “get the look” and buy it. The “Enhanced Reality Engine” will provide tutorials by helping you how to use the products. This could be the future for many beauty brands, but how can this be a threat to the beauty industry?





AR IS TAKING OVER

The big pioneers in the cosmetic industry are already taking part in using AR on their website. Want to see how “the luxe eyeshadow” from Bobbi Brown looks on you? With the virtual makeup try-on on their website you will see it in less than a minute without doing any effort. Mac Cosmetics also brought the virtual try-ons to Instagram together with a lot of influencers making their own beauty filter through Spark AR Studio. According to Foresight Factory, filters for social media and automatic editing technologies could also form a threat to the beauty industry. Consumers can make their appearance better without the struggle of applying and removing makeup.

There are filters like Sophie Katirai makes with lifting lashes and plumping lips or like Johanna Jaskowska who makes fashionable syfy and cyborg face filters. It’s a whole different experience, but did these AR creators also think about the downside of these filters?


ENDANGERING MENTAL HEALTH

This February, Instagram killed its top beauty filter called “Lil Icey Eyes”. It gave Instagram users cold stares, thick eyelashes, slim noses and enlarged lips. The filter would stay for just a second, and then it would disappear, which gave a funny contrast between the glamorous virtual face and their real self. Instagram banned filters who were providing a “plastic surgery” effect. According to a study published in the journal of the American Medical Association, such visuals have a negative impact on the wellbeing of users, especially teens. Their insecurities can get the best of them and they will start believing that they will only get likes if they use these filters. This is not the only risky side effect of VR in apps. The privacy of users is a weak spot too.

DIGITAL VULNERABILITY

For many devices that are connected to the internet as well as VR / AR, certain user data is shared with the manufacturer. For example, information about the time zone, country code, IP address and browser may end up with the producer. We've all had that one time we looked up something specific and then were spammed with ads of the same product. This happens because existing data can also be shared with third parties in order to develop personalized advertising for the user. Which information reaches the manufacturer and what happens to it depends on the brand. We have to think of what we put online and to what terms we agree to. Ineke Siersema, Teacher 3D Virtual prototyping, thinks we have to teach our children at school what privacy is and how to protect it. We can't avoid the fact that technology within VR & AR will be more enhanced than it is now. It also brings a lot of beauty in life. Look at this time of period where we can’t travel. How beautiful is it to have the opportunity to escape to another world.

Not everything in the beauty industry could be replaced by VR / AR. Physical beauty stores will stay to provide us with real-life experience. People still have the need to touch and try it physically. We moved on from the “one-size fits all” concept. Look at L’Oreal’s Modiface tech which creates personalized skin care formulas including moisturisers, serums and creams. Or the possibility of buying the products directly from a beauty filter through instagram. I would actually buy it! But will you let an AR filter which beautifies your appearance make you second guessing our looks? We are fading away our flaws and insecurities and letting technology decide how we have to live. Technology is shaping our new reality, we are moving away from being an actual human towards an augmented human.



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