Whilst the term ‘augmented reality’ (AR) was coined in the 90s by Boeing researcher Tom Caudell, it’s emergence in customer facing products is still relatively new. Over the past year, numerous smartphone apps have released AR features - think Pokemon Go, Snapchat, and other similar games. These apps allow you to layer a virtual world on top of the real world in front of you. Researchers are currently moving towards embedding AR in everyday life. Whilst the Google Glass didn't receive the acclaim that had been hoped, the technology is there and the ability to disrupt and enhance the world around us with augmented additions is approaching.

With a practical application of AR, L’Oréal have created an app that allows customers to take photographs of themselves and ‘try on’ different products to assess whether they’d be interested in purchasing them. Panagiotis-Alexandros Bokaris, Augmented Reality Engineer at L’Oréal will be speaking at the Machine Intelligence Summit Amsterdam next week, June 28 & 29. He will be discussing the use of machine learning in AR applications and connected devices; he will be exploring how this allows L’Oréal to personalize their final beauty products and enhance the user experience. Machine learning has a dual role in their tasks through the exploitation of the huge amount of available data and the recent advances in computer vision that helped the emergence of augmented reality.

We spoke to Alexandros ahead of his talk next week to find out some more about his work in AR.

Can you give me a short overview of your work at L’Oréal?
At L’Oréal R&I I work as an augmented reality engineer in the group of Applied Optics and Algorithms which belongs to the Technology Direction. I am mostly focusing on augmented reality applications for beauty personalization in order to enhance the user experience of our products

What started your work in augmented reality?
Augmented reality is a fascinating rather recent field that changes the way we interact with the world. This enhanced perception of the physical space has a wide range of applications and beauty is definitely one of them. Each user can have a unique interactive experience which is extremely aligned with beauty personalization.

What are the key factors that have enabled recent advancements in augmented reality at L’Oréal?
The emergence of augmented reality in the last years was the result of the recent advances in computer vision and machine learning that enabled the real time processing of difficult vision tasks. For example, the real-time detection and tracking of facial landmarks allowed the rendering of different makeup on a human face. What L’Oréal brings on the table is its deep knowledge in beauty products and its strong research culture. Measurements and experimentation of more than a century offer the necessary information in order to make the digital visualization of our products more realistic.

What are the key challenges to progressing with personalized augmented reality suggestions?
The main challenge is that the augmented products should appear as they do in reality. For instance, if a lipstick is suggested as a personalized solution in an augmented reality application, the user should have the same exact feeling once trying on the lipstick at a store.  There are various technological obstacles in digitalizing the appearance of complex materials and their rendering on different people and conditions. It is a multidisciplinary field that requires continuous development of new techniques in order to guarantee the satisfaction of our customers.

How is augmented reality helping your customers have a better experience with L’Oréal?
The amount of available beauty products in the market is massive and finding the desired one is not a trivial task. Moreover, despite the wide available range only a few people can find a product that really corresponds to their needs. Thus, the personalization of both the beauty products and the user experience is a game changer in the beauty industry. Augmented reality is transforming the struggling selection process into an exciting experience. What is unique at L’Oréal is that AR experiences are not considered as a fun gadget but as a precise simulation of our physical products.

What developments can we expect to see in augmented reality in L’Oréal in the next 5 years?
Following the increasing investment of various big industrial players in augmented reality, the futures looks extremely promising. At L’Oréal we will continue towards our main mission of offering beauty to each individual. Breakthrough technologies will expand the product categories and the utilization scenarios. Various augmented reality applications will be available in the years to come transforming the way we perceive and interact with beauty products.

Find out more about the Machine Intelligence in Autonomous Vehicles Summit and the Machine Intelligence Summit in Amsterdam this June 28 & 29.

Hear presentations from Skyscanner, NVIDIA, Scyfer, Google Research Europe, alpha-i, Picnic, and many more. View the full lineup of speakers here.Can't make it to Amsterdam? Find tickets for our Global Summit series: