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Shiseido app adds makeup to faces on video conferences

by

Staff Writer

In a potential boost for the government’s drive to get more people telecommuting, cosmetics company Shiseido Co. has developed an app that makes users look as if they are wearing makeup. It amounts to an instant makeover for the unfortunate worker called to appear on screen from home at an awkward hour.

The TeleBeauty app, developed in collaboration with Microsoft Japan, allows users to choose from four different makeup options: natural, trendy, cool, or feminine.

While on camera, the makeup on the user’s face syncs with real-time facial movements, “unless the face moves wildly,” according to Shiseido spokeswoman Megumi Koyama.

The idea for the app came from Shiseido employees about a year ago, Koyama said.

She said colleagues found it bothersome to have to put on makeup for video conferences, especially those with colleagues overseas, as calls tended to come at odd hours.

And workers do not have to scramble to tidy up their homes, either.

The app, for which the company utilized makeup simulation technology that it began developing in the late 1990s, has a feature to blur the background.

“Telecommuting is becoming more common, both in our company and in society. We hope the app will contribute to that trend,” she said.

Shiseido introduced a telecommuting program in January. So far, staff have used it around 200 times.

The app, which has yet to hit the market, will be made available on an experimental basis on Skype for Business for the staff of companies taking part in a weeklong campaign by Microsoft Japan from Monday.

The aim of the campaign is to reform the way people work. In addition, 100 female staff from the software manufacturer are testing it.

Koyama stressed that the app is not just for women.

“We would like men to use it, too, because it is often said that faces of people participating in video conferences look darker than they really are, and depending on the angle of the camera, the workers look as if they have bags under their eyes,” she said. “The app is set up so the users’ skin looks brighter. I think it’s a feature that helps anyone look professional.”

The government is pushing telecommuting as a way to help female workers balance family and work. It wants to boost the percentage of people working from home at least one day a week to 10 percent of the workforce, in a bid to get 73 percent of women aged 25-44 into work by 2020.