Try Before You Dye: AI Helps Customers Find Their Ideal Hair Color

Episode 4 of "I Am AI" docuseries explores an astounding transformation in the hair care industry.
by Lisa Lahde

The days of hair coloring being characterized by failed henna experiments and leaps of faith at salons will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to AI.

Episode 4 of our “I Am AI” docuseries introduces ModiFace, a Toronto-based company that’s transforming the way people choose new hair colors and, along with it, the multi-billion dollar hair care industry.

ModiFace has been bringing augmented reality to the beauty industry for the past decade. The company’s founder and CEO, Parham Aarabi, had applied his work on using AI for face tracking and lip detection to enable consumers to see what beauty products would look like when applied.

Already a leader in that market, ModiFace is now eyeing the much more ambitious task of letting people virtually try on hair colors. The company’s iOS application does just that — with startling effectiveness — removing a lot of the inherent mystery that comes with deciding on a new hair color.

See how it works in the video below:

AI to Address Market Need

ModiFace’s hair app marks a progression of AI as a shopping aide. Consumers have long been able to see how clothing fits their body type or view furnishings and décor in their living spaces. With ModiFace, those capabilities are applied to one of the most personal style decisions a person can make, especially one as fluid and constantly changing as hair.

The company expects the ability to try on hair colors through AI apps to become standard in the near future. No more blindly hoping a color will look as good on you as it does on a celebrity in a magazine. Instead, people can figure out what works best for them before committing to potential disasters.

“There’s such a need in the market for consumers to see what they can look like with the hair color applied, before buying that product and doing that themselves or going to the salon,” said Jennifer Tidy, vice president of partnerships at ModiFace. “It’s like looking into a mirror. We can instantly start tracking your face, tracking the hair and apply any color you want.”

ModiFace Removes the Guesswork

Initially, the app generated 2D images, and required users to manually outline their hair and make any needed corrections. ModiFace had to take all of the 2D data and know-how it’s accumulated about hair and apply it to understanding hair in 3D. That required improvements to its neural network architecture.

Now a convolutional neural network that’s been modified to generate a mask for the hair in an image powers the app. “Once this neural net understands what a hair is in one image, when you provide it with live video it can build that three-dimensional model,” Aarabi said.

“The hair color app is a demo of what our technology can do,” Aarabi said. When choosing a hair color previously, “there was a lot of hope and guessing,” he said. “But now it’s all about knowing precisely what the color would look like on you.”

More “I Am AI” Videos to Come

Keep coming back for more “I Am AI” videos, and to learn how NVIDIA customers are changing the world with GPU-powered AI applications. Next up in the docuseries, a driverless racecar like you’ve never seen before.

Watch more episodes of the “I am AI” docuseries on our AI Innovators page.