Hannah Williams’ selfie app has been YouCam Makeup for years. Before posting a self-portrait to Instagram, the 25-year-old Morgantown, W. Va. cashier will run the photo through YouCam’s augmented reality filters to whiten her teeth, clear stray pimples and smooth out her complexion. For the past few months, she’s been playing with the app’s cat-eye eyeliner, using the AR hair filter to re-imagine herself with red and purple hair, and contouring her face for her Bumble profile.
Williams said she’s taken a lot of value out of the app: She looks “snatched away,” she said. But every selfie from Williams brings even more value to Perfect Corp., YouCam’s Taiwan-based parent company. Backed by investors including Snap, Chanel, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Alibaba Group Holding, Perfect Corp. consumers and brands advanced try-on tools, essentially AR filters that allow customers to virtually test beauty products from the comfort of their own home. For just $399 a month, Perfect Corp.’s artificial intelligence platform can. – trained on hundreds of millions of faces like Williams – analyze the skin quality of users, match the exact shade of their skin to a corresponding product and cosmetic and fashion accessories. And soon, the program can even label users’ personality traits.
It is this latter feature that opens up more dystopian possibilities. Recently, Perfect Corp. launched. an AI Personality Finder, which promises to read your facial features for clues about what kind of person you are — and, by extension, what kind of products you might buy. Intrigued (though a little alarmed), I snapped a selfie and ran it through the online demo. Five seconds later, it spat out a profile based purely on the arrangement of my face. According to Personality Finder’s algorithm, the distance between my nose and mouth, combined with my rounded cheekbones, hooded eyes, and other facial features, identified me as an enthusiastic, action-oriented, and sociable person. I scored 95% for extraversion, 21% for neuroticism and 63% for conscientiousness.
This data, when fed into Perfect Corp’s recommendation engine. — licensed by companies as diverse as Google, Meta, and Aveda — then showcased a variety of generic cosmetics. (The demo program doesn’t sync with specific brands right now.) Apparently, my personality algorithmically matches red lipstick, eyebrow pencil, and Goddess and Lilac perfume. These products are temporary suggestions for future business customers, but it’s easy to imagine them being replaced with real goods from existing customers such as L’Oréal, Macy’s, Estée Lauder or Nars. And Perfect Corp. clearly has ambitions that go well beyond selling lip liners and blush.