This morning, I was excited to be heading for the offices of Holition. Located in Chancery Lane, Holition is an award winning digital creative studio that focuses on digital retail and beauty tech. Formed as a venture start-up, Holition explores and expands the role that technological innovation can play in communicating with today’s new digital consumer.
When I arrived, I was welcomed with a brief flutter of hellos, handshakes and smiles, before I was shown to a lovely room with impressive interior. As I sat down with Fiona Spence and Karinna Nobbs, I was offered coffee and a slice of lemon poppy seed cake. I was happy that our chatter flowed naturally. As we nibbled our cake, they proudly educated me on the projects that Holition was involved in. I was interested to hear more about their involvement in the area of beauty tech.
Most of us are aware that the merger of the beauty industry with technology is gaining momentum. This is probably the reason why companies like L’Oréal are investing in ‘beauty tech’ startups. Leading the pack in this field is Holition. It wasn’t so long ago that they introduced the FACE to the market. It is a beauty tech makeup innovation that immerses virtual cosmetic experience for brands and retailers. Using a patent-pending innovative technology, the Face turns smartphones and tablets into a ‘smart’ mirror that allows consumers to try on the latest colours, shades and textures of makeup. As we excitedly talked about the merge, Fiona shared with me a past project that they worked on with make up brand Charlotte Tilbury.
A year in the works, Fiona shared that this was a project that had a “strong focus on the ‘artistry of makeup’”. Introducing me to the ‘magic mirror’, she showed me the 10 Makeup Looks that Charlotte herself created. As I stood in front of the mirror, I magically watched my face transformed by the Holition app. Depending on the look I selected, from the 10 I was offered, I was able to see what I would look like before the makeup is put on. The experience was centered around an interactive touchscreen that allowed me to virtually experience each one of the Charlotte Tilbury’s signature looks.
“What I loved most about the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Mirror was the mirror’s ability to recognise my skin tone.”
So how does it work? Well, using advanced real-time tracking and realistic visualization the mirror offers a full range of products to try-on including foundation, blusher, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, lip liner and lipstick. What I loved most about the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Mirror was its ability to recognise my skin tone, which is rarely taken into account by most beauty apps, and contour my makeup, a skill I am yet to perfect.
As our conversation continued I asked Fiona, “After spending a considerable time researching and exploring people’s attitudes towards shopping for beauty products and the latest trends, what is your end game?”. She explained, “One of the aims was to really understand how consumers are using digital because we believe that tools like the Magic Mirror create a deeper relationship and engagement with consumers.” She continued, “By understanding the role of technology in-store and the role of social, especially as a lot of fashion and beauty is about recommendations and endorsement from other people, Holition can make the technology fit for purpose.”
“Holition can make the technology fit for purpose.”
As Tilbury leads the way, I wondered who else Holition was working with. On this they confirmed that they have a few top secret projects underway. Giving them my most winning smile, I asked them to elaborate. To which they politely declined. But what they did share was the work that they did with high street favourite makeup brand Rimmel.
Fiona explained, they worked together with Rimmel London to introduce a breakthrough in digital technology with a mobile app called GET THE (LONDON) LOOK. Called the Shazam For Beauty by Forbes, it was the first-ever real-time 3D make-up simulation application that enabled consumers to try out other people’s make-up styles. Using their highly advanced FACE technology, Holition made it possible for consumers to point their phone or tablet at a friend’s made-up face and then virtually try on the same look using colour-matched cosmetics by Rimmel.
Fascinated, I asked about whether this is a digital innovation that they see becoming the norm in the beauty tech industry. Confident in its staying power, Karrina predicted that it can only get better, then switching to fashion meets AR, she added that when it comes AR clothes, “I definitely believe that AR try on will become the norm and the next step is to have live AR video try on. We currently do not have the technology to perfect it, but when we do, we will be able to deliver an even better product.” Back to the topic of beauty tech Fiona confirmed that “Over the next 3 years, Rimmel will continue to develop its digital and influencer strategy through ongoing innovation, disruptive campaigns and performing content to establish itself the minds of younger generations and drive the London Look awareness outside the UK.”
As I left the building, I must say that I was honored that Holition gave me a peek to their artistic approach to the design of technology. Discussing groundbreaking, revolutionary technology with Fiona and Karinna left me inspired to put my investigative cap on, and immerse myself in all things beauty tech. So on that note, I will be keeping my eye on this new space, because I am sure it is going to be big!
Founding editor-in-chief of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta is currently one of the leading influencers writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology. She has also given talks at Premiere Vision, Munich Fabric Start and Pure London, to name a few. Besides working as a fashion innovation consultant for various fashion companies like LVMH Atelier, Muchaneta has also contributed to Vogue Business, is a senior contributor at The Interline and an associate lecturer at London College of Fashion, UAL.