Could Toronto become a hub for “beauty tech” research?


Professor Parham Aarabi is the CEO and Founder of ModiFace, a spin-off company that uses augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to create advanced facial visualization software for the beauty and medical industries. (Credit: Johnny Guatto)

U of T Engineering spin-off company ModiFace has been acquired by L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company. ModiFace is software that creates advanced facial visualizations using augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Beauty companies usually buy from other beauty companies,” said Professor Parham Aarabi (ECE), founder and CEO of ModiFace. “This will be the first technology company under L’Oréal.

Aarabi founded ModiFace 11 years ago after realizing that his research on computer vision and face tracking could be applied to the cosmetics industry, where users could see what they looked like with different shades and makeup applications. .

The startup uses live video to track facial features like eyes and lips, and then, based on those features, renders different effects of makeup, hair, or skin. Aarabi said the company also uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to “understand both faces and consumers in terms of how they interact and the nuances they try.”

The global cosmetics industry is worth around $ 460 billion and L’Oréal’s purchase of ModiFace demonstrates the importance of next-generation technologies in this sector.

Lubomira Rochet, Chief Digital Officer of L’Oréal, said in a statement that the acquisition of ModiFace “will support the reinvention of the beauty experience around innovative services to help our customers”.

Aarabi will remain the CEO of ModiFace and the company will continue to be based in Toronto. He explains that 60 of the company’s 70 employees, including researchers and engineers, have a connection to the University of Toronto, and that the company plans to tap into the vast pool of engineering and IT talent at the university as it grows under its new owner.

While so-called ‘beauty tech’ might not seem as potentially disruptive as self-driving cars or AI-powered lawyers, Aarabi said the industry, and the large amount of money that underpins it. tends, could play an important role in the emergence of Toronto. as a global research and innovation hub.


Paul N. Strickland

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