Just this week, Shiseido Americas Corporation (subsidiary of Shiseido Company Limited) announced a new acquisition involving artificial intelligence (AI) startup, Giaran Inc. Both companies say the partnership will transform the customer experience by personalizing it through the use of Giaran’s beauty simulation technology.
The AI startup was founded in 2016 by associate professor Raymond Fu in his Northeastern University lab with the intention of providing consumers with an interactive virtual way of trying on various cosmetic products. Some of the company’s current products include a virtual makeup try-on tool and personalized recommendations sent via mobile, desktop, or tablet.
Fu is excited about the acquisition. “This is definitely a big achievement for Giaran and the whole team,” he says. “It’s a win-win situation for both sides. Giaran can provide state-of-the-art AI technology to benefit Shiseido’s business development and help engage more customers, and it’s great for us because Shiseido will provide a much larger platform for our technology.”
Marc Ray is president and CEO of Shiseido Americas and he too is pleased about the newly formed partnership. “Raymond and the Giaran team have created truly novel AI technologies for cosmetic applications, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Shiseido family,” he said.
Giaran was formed off the back of Fu’s Synergetic Media Learning Laboratory, otherwise known as the SMILE Lab. At the lab Fu and colleagues use Big Data, augmented reality, and computer vision to develop data mining and predictive modeling algorithms. “In the early stages of this research, we didn’t know much about fashion, makeup, and beauty,” explained Fu.
However, an epiphany moment came when the team were researching how they could improve facial recognition by digitally removing someone’s makeup. “It was then we thought, ‘If we can remove someone’s makeup, maybe we can apply this to other domains,” Fu said. To further explore this possibility, Fu began conducting market research on both customers and beauty industry professionals. He wanted to know if there was a market for a virtual web tool that would allow users to try on makeup before they buy it as well as finding the most suitable shades and colours for them.
And that’s where the idea for the acquisition came in. “We are a technology company. We’re not experts on fashion and beauty,” said Fu. “Shiseido is a very prestigious company that will provide insight and vision in this domain. We need that insight to drive our research and development.”