What do a custom-made lipstick and a QR Code that gives access to a product’s ingredients have in common? These two innovations are the result of bringing together research and digital technology within the L’Oréal group. A convergence between science and technological tools that does not seem obvious at first sight…
“While scientific research is experimental, technology responds to the opposite pattern: however, it is the intersection of these two universes that allows us to create the future of beauty, in particular with more predictive care”, explains Barbara Lavernos, Deputy Managing Director and Director of Research, Innovation and Technology at L’Oréal.
This new direction, launched in 2021, has its origins in the vision of Jean-Paul Agon and Nicolas Hieronimus, former and current bosses of the group, who have advocated “digital” at the service of the company, here are already ten years. Without forgetting science and research, consubstantial with L’Oréal (founded by a chemist). Thus, with this project of beauty tech multidisciplinary teams design products and tools, both for customers and for employees of the cosmetics giant.
“Whether developing new services for consumers or solutions dedicated to employees, the end user is at the heart of the process”, specifies Stéphane Lannuzel, director of the Beauty Tech program. For each project, a team combining artificial intelligence specialists, tech profiles and specific experts from the group’s laboratories works in “product mode”. “This consists of combining different areas of expertise with a view to building a solution, enriching it throughout its development,” explains Stéphane Lannuzel.
In terms of customer services, this organisation, the cornerstone of the group’s transformation strategy, has given rise to a virtual make-up fitting system. Or even the Skin Genius skin diagnosis: thanks to artificial intelligence technology, a selfie is enough to establish a dermatological analysis. As for the solutions developed for the teams (which are behind the launch of 8,000 new beauty products each year), the crossover between science and digital technology has resulted, among other tools, in a digital formulation device making it possible to develop and predict the effectiveness of a formula, with a lot of algorithms.
Blockchain, IOT and mechatronics
“From Blockchain and IoT [Internet des objets, NDLR], to API platforms and the cloud, via virtual reality and mechatronics, we use all new technologies. And we use the organizational models of the major tech groups for the development of our technological products”, underlines Stéphane Lannuzel, specifying that the group employs around a hundred data scientists. For her part, Barbara Lavernos indicates that artificial intelligence is integrated according to the priorities of the group “through a global network of ‘Tech Accelerators’ based in Paris, Shanghai, Toronto and New York”.
In the service of sustainable development, Beauty Tech enabled the launch of L’Oréal Water Saver, a technology promoting better water management (thanks to a more efficient and shorter shampoo rinsing phase). A solution named by “Time Magazine” in the Top 100 innovations of the year 2021. If the objective is to provide answers to immediate challenges, it is also a question of the future.
“We have launched a “Meta Force” made up of employees from very different professions, but all sharing the passion for the metaverse. We are also interested in quantum computer applications, these new generations of machines with increased capacities”, concludes Stéphane Lannuzel.
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Tech and science, L’Oréal’s formula for the beauty of the future
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