The developer of virtual beauty app, YouCam Makeup, announced on January 6 that it had closed a US$50m Series C funding led by Goldman Sachs.
This comes at an interesting time for the company as the online channel has become the main avenue for beauty brands to engage with their consumers.
“COVID-19 continues to impact the physical retail businesses as many beauty shoppers have turned towards shopping for their beauty products online. To be able to provide the product try-on experience digitally on the website, many beauty brands have adopted the AR virtual try-on technology to help the consumer to virtually experience the product,” said Louis Chen, Chief strategy officer and SVP of business development, Perfect Corp.
With more brands gearing up to execute a more effective direct-to-consumer (D2C) strategy, the company has observed demand for virtual try-on tech across beauty categories from make-up to hair.
AI’s skin care potential
Chen told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the company intends to use the latest round of funding to invest ‘heavily’ in the research and development of artificial intelligence technology for various beauty applications, including skin care.
“The demands for AI skincare technology are huge. It helps the skincare brands to engage with beauty consumers online in a completely new way. Perfect will continue to develop more AI technologies to enable new types of skin health detections in 2021.”
The company intends to explore AI simulation as it believes it will be key for skin care moving forward. It has already developed facial ageing simulations intended for skincare applications.
“AI ageing simulations use the user’s own photo to artificially generate a series of accurate simulated images showing the user’s facial ageing process. The simulation can help the user to understand the facial ageing process better and potentially showing different ageing results for anti-ageing products,” said Chen.
For 2021, the company also intends to use its technology to develop a ‘shoppertainment experience’ to cater to rising shopping channels such as live commerce.
The company has already developed an AR livestreaming service that allows viewers to virtually experience the product in real-time while on the livestreaming broadcast.
Providing a personalised consumer shopping experience is a ‘key focus’ for the company, said Chen.
For instance, it sees opportunities in the online skin care consulting space, where the firm’s virtual try-on technology can be integrated into an online beauty advisor via live video chat.
Perfect recently debuted YouCam Video at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The app was built on the tech from YouCam Makeup and lets users edit portrait-style footage with makeup, reshape facial features on selfie videos, and add stunning video effects in seconds.
The company is exploring how it can use this technology commercially as a new and interesting way for brands to engage with consumers, said Chen.
“The effects we can deliver in YouCam Video are highly sophisticated and highly realistic. It’s certainly positive for us to bring the video make-up technology for brand applications. For example, the technology will allow beauty consumers to apply virtual makeup effects and virtual hair colour effects on the videos they have made in the past.”
And with AI technology, the company can go even further, said Chen.
“We have the technology to identify different facial attributes in terms of eye shape, brow shape, lip shape, face shape and cheekbone characteristics. This technology can be used so brands can get to know the customers better and to provide a better product, or makeup recommendations based on their facial features.”
Aside from R&D, the company is also aiming to integrate its technology onto more platforms.
Last year, the firm managed to ink strategic partnerships to establish its technology onto YouTube, Google and Snapchat.
Chen explained that these partnerships are highly advantageous as it enables brands to create an omnichannel AR virtual try-on experience while broadening their customer outreach.
“Many of the brands customers are highly social and highly active on the platforms mentioned earlier, the partnerships between Perfect and these platforms will give the brand brands the opportunity to let consumers on these platforms to experience their products virtually.”