HP's colorful new sideline

Hewlett-Packard's business is about to get brighter, thanks to new color-matching technology for the beauty industry.

By Lindsay Blakely, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Hewlett-Packard might be better known for computers and printers than lipstick and mascara, but that isn't stopping the $92 billion giant from taking a tentative step into cosmetics. Color Match, the latest technology from HP's R&D labs, is designed to let women turn their cell phones into beauty consultants - and could soon be adapted for any color-matching situation.

All a customer needs to get a recommendation for, say, foundation is a camera phone and a special card with a color wheel. Holding the chart near her face, she snaps a picture and sends it to HP's servers, which use the card to color-correct the image and then match the skin tone to hues in its database.

Ten seconds later the customer gets a text message with the foundation color she needs, as recommended by professional beauty consultants. "The way women talk about cosmetics hasn't changed in 30 years," says Nina Bhatti, principal scientist at HP Labs. "This is a new paradigm."

Color Match was developed for a large cosmetics company, but HP declines to reveal the identity of its partner. The final application will likely send text messages to customers who use the service, offering other products that match their skin tones.

Says Crawford Del Prete, vice president at research firm IDC, "It could be a real disruptive threat to the classic department-store beauty counter." And Bhatti thinks the fashion and interior design industries are ripe for similar Color Match services. HP's business, in other words, may soon become a lot more colorful.  Top of page

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