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Trying on makeup at a boutique or department-store counter is a ton of fun, but it usually requires wiping off lipstick and smearing makeup remover over the eyes. But a new product called the ModiFace Mirror lets customers try on makeup virtually -- just by looking at a screen.
The ModiFace Mirror, which launched Wednesday, is a kiosk designed for retailers to put in their stores. A customer can approach the Mirror and at first glance the software overlays a suggested "look": eyeshadow and liner, foundation and blush, lipstick and gloss.
Or makeup mavens can pull up a rainbow of shades for each part of the face and tweak until they're happy with the look. Dial the intensity up or down, change the shape of the eyeliner application, or make other tweaks -- and once you're happy with the look, the ModiFace Mirror provides the brand and shade of that perfect ruby pout so you can go put it in your shopping cart.
If you'd rather try it out at home, ModiFace also offers a free Beauty Mirror app with similar functionality -- and if you find a shade you like, you can opt to buy the product online.
The Mirror is all about makeup, but the product and the company have unlikely roots in the military and intelligence fields.
Founder Parham Aarabi is a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto. Starting in 2001 he worked on several projects on the university that focused on spatial audio -- namely, the ability to listen to sounds from sources that are far away -- and ambient noise proved to be a consistent problem, as it interfered with the audio.
To solve that problem, the Canadian government funded a project that allowed Aarabi and team to develop technology to precisely track lips as they move in a videotaped conversation -- which would help in understanding speech. That lip-tracking work later led to the creation of the initial ModiFace lip-changing application, which later expanded to eyeshadow, foundation and more.