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Technology Secrets Behind “TeleBeauty,” the Auto-Makeup App for Working Women

Concept video of TeleBeauty, the automatic makeup application Concept video of TeleBeauty, the automatic makeup application
Secrets Behind “TeleBeauty,” the Auto-Makeup App for Working Women

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A communication tool that serves society

--Shiseido has announced the development of “TeleBeauty,” an automatic makeup application. This revolutionary application will be developed in cooperation with Microsoft Japan. When a person’s face is displayed on the screen, for example during an online meeting, TeleBeauty is able to use digital processing to apply makeup to it and adjust the coloring and complexion. When did the development start, and what led to the start of this project?

Hanahara:The planning of the project started around last spring out of a desire to solve social issues through design-inspired ideas, and to facilitate communication in a way that helps people. With that in mind, we engaged in discussions with Hakuhodo Kettle Inc. about projects for minority groups, such as telecommuters, the visually impaired, and LGBT. This idea was the result of our discussions.

Kagaya:The decision to develop TeleBeauty was, as you might expect, based on the fact that it involves makeup. We felt that it may be able to bring out the Shiseido character.

Hanahara:At the same time, there was also the view that working styles may change significantly going forward, so our intention was also to propose a form of makeup that is suited to the times.

--Ms. Kagaya and Mr. Hanahara, you were involved in the system development for this project. How was this application made?

Kagaya:With regard to the makeup simulator itself, Shiseido had originally developed a service called the “Mirai Mirror,” and we were able to apply that technology. However, TeleBeauty is connected to a network, which meant that we needed to also transmit the image with makeup applied to it to the interlocutor. For that reason, the first phase of the project involved the development of this technology, as well as the development of the user interface (UI). During that period, we faced many problems with the precision of the application, such as the inability of the makeup to keep up with the movements of the person. At the time, compatibility with Microsoft Japan’s “Skype for Business” platform had not been confirmed, so various arrangements were not yet in place, including how to ensure the application gained traction.

--I see. So Shiseido has carried out the technological development. I was certain that Microsoft Japan would be responsible for that.

Hanahara:Yes, that is the impression most people would get, isn’t it? (laughs) Shiseido is a makeup company, so the assumption would be that it does not have such technology.

Kagaya:With regard to development, the Advertising & Design Department took the lead in directing the process, including the technical aspects, and also followed up on the UI.

--What was the response of Microsoft Japan when it learned about this project?

Kataoka:The executive officer who is in charge of Skype for Business commented, “Although the government has been pushing hard to promote telecommuting, the actual situation has not really lived up to these efforts. TeleBeauty is the answer to making that a reality.” He also expressed that this is an idea unique to Shiseido, and that Microsoft would never have thought of it themselves.

Paper materials from one year ago, which led to the development of TeleBeauty Paper materials from one year ago, which led to the development of TeleBeauty

Faces of working women featured in the concept video for TeleBeauty Faces of working women featured in the concept video for TeleBeauty

Seeing each other’s faces makes communication more in-depth.

--What were the details that you paid particular attention to when coming up with the screen design?

Hanahara:I wanted to make it a design that could bring out the sense of excitement and happiness that women feel when they are doing their makeup. The regular Skype screen is simple and gives a business-like impression, so we considered adding a little glamor to that. Taking the bold step of using a delicate font and background colors that are associated with the idea of makeup, we paid attention to creating a sense of femininity in coming up with the design.

Miyazawa:We proposed using a colorful background that would raise the user’s spirits simply by looking at the screen. In addition, we created an instantaneous white-out effect for the screen transition that takes place after the user selects the makeup pattern and before the makeup is applied. This gives the user a little taste of undergoing a “transformation.” These are examples of the tiny details that we were committed to.

Kagaya:After we tested out the application later, we learned that there are so many people who use only the audio function or the chat function, during a video conference. However, communication is more in-depth when you can see each other’s faces, and so much more can be understood. Makeup highlights the significance of seeing one another face-to-face on the network. I feel strongly that TeleBeauty can play an important role in making this experience a reality.

--Users can select their makeup from four different patterns. How did you decide on the patterns to use?

Kagaya:Initially, there were more variations. There were also playful styles such as gaudy makeup and kabuki makeup (laughs). In actual fact, we received feedback from many people during our interviews that they prefer a natural look, so we considered natural makeup looks that people would normally wear at work before asking for suggestions from Shiseido’s makeup artists.

Hanahara:The function for adjusting the brightness of the face was more difficult to develop than the makeup and the background blurring functions. Depending on the camera on the computer, the image on the screen can look completely different, and we had to test several computers by different manufacturers. We decided on one set of criteria, and began to make adjustments based on that. We probably struggled the hardest in our attempt to ultimately create a level of brightness that looks well-balanced on any computer.

Kagaya:We also hit upon a realization in this aspect. In fact, the camera settings on the computer can also adjust brightness to a certain degree. However, nobody bothers to do that, right? I think that the most important characteristic of TeleBeauty lies in its ability to do that when we simply launch the application.

Users can select the makeup patterns easily Users can select the makeup patterns easily

The logo was produced using a delicate font that expresses femininity The logo was produced using a delicate font that expresses femininity

Enabling women around the world to work the way they want

--How was the development of TeleBeauty positioned in Shiseido?

Kosukegawa:In the case of Shiseido, we have a department called the Beauty Creation Center, where hair and makeup artists develop makeup techniques. In addition to that, we also have a dedicated IT and technology department, and a department that works on the development of makeup simulators. We mobilized all these different capabilities for the development of this project. TeleBeauty is a tool that can contribute beauty to society, and we believe that we may have created a new communication style.

Kagaya:Coming up with the concept video was also a significant aspect of development. I am also glad that we were successful in clearly communicating not only the makeup functions of this tool, but also the definitions of this service and our aims in developing it. Of course, video conferencing tools can be used both in Japan and overseas, and there are increasing opportunities to work remotely around the world today. Hence, the narration of this video was done in English. I think we fine-tuned it by also interviewing local employees overseas, so that the application can also attract the interest of people outside of Japan.

--In that sense, the name “TeleBeauty” that Ms. Miyazawa came up with is brilliant.

Miyazawa:Telecommuting is a common culture overseas, but there are still very few Japanese companies that have adopted the system. On top of that, there are also many people who do not know that working from home is referred to as “telecommuting.” “Tele” in “telecommuting” means “over a long distance.” By combining that with “beauty,” I hoped that it would convey the value and image of the application accurately and quickly. That is how I came up with the name for the application.

--What are your expectations for this application going forward?

Kagaya:Although it is now officially compatible with Skype for Business, we are still in the trial period. Above all, it is of the utmost importance for people to use TeleBeauty, so I think that it is necessary to reflect feedback received from users back into development and further improve on the application based on that. We will make further efforts to win even more users.

The concept video also shows telecommuting women at work The concept video also shows telecommuting women at work

Published in December 2016

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Masato Kosukegawa Creative Director
Joined Shiseido in 1991. After gaining three years of sales experience, he took on a creative role as a Commercial Planner. He is in charge of brands such as HAKU, FWB, TSUBAKI NO YUME, and Shiseido’s online shopping website “watashi+”.

Nodoka Kagaya Digital Director
Graduated from Tama Art University. She was involved in creative planning and development as a digital communication planner in an advertising agency. Since joining Shiseido in 2015, she has been a member of the Advertising & Design Department. She is engaged in the work of communication design, planning, and development.

Mari Kataoka Department Manager
Joined Shiseido after graduating from the Faculty of Letters at Keio University, with a major in Aesthetics and Science of Arts. After experiencing work in international business, product development, business and sales, customer service center, business planning, and CSR, she was appointed Department Manager in 2014.

Yukino Miyazawa Copy Writer
Joined Shiseido in 2010. For one year starting 2013, she was temporarily transferred to an Internet production company to learn the fundamentals of digital communication. Her major works include INTEGRATE, ELIXIR, and d program.

Masaki Hanahara Art Director
Joined Shiseido in 2005. After taking charge of the artistic direction for MAQuillAGE and the Global SHISEIDO brand, he is now working on the Design R&D project that aims to create new value by fusing design with technology.

Credit
CD
Masato Kosukegawa
AD
Masaki Hanahara
C
Yukino Miyazawa
DM
Mari Kataoka
DD
Nodoka Kagaya

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