Toronto beauty-tech company ModiFace just sold to L'Oreal
French cosmetics juggernaut L'Oreal is acquiring 100 per cent of the Toronto-based Augmented Reality firm ModiFace for an undisclosed (read: probably and deservedly ginormous) amount.
Founded in 2006 by University of Toronto and Stanford grad Parham Aarabi, ModiFace has become hot as fire in recent years with the rise of AI and AR-boosted beauty tech.
The firm focuses specifically on facial visualization and virtual modification, which fits perfectly into L'Oreal's (and the beauty industry in general's) digital future.
"With ModiFace we've acquired ... the stock of inventions they've already created, but more than that, the ability to look at reinventing the beauty experience in the years to come," said L'Oreal chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet in a statement on Friday.
Part of that reinvention involves letting customers try on makeup from home using ModiFace's advanced face tracking technology – the same technology that's already being used by more than 1oo brands for virtual makeovers, skin diagnoses, showing people how they'd look with different hair colours and more.
Aarabi told the Canadian Press in an interview this week that when he founded the company 11 years ago, he thought the application of his technology would be "speech recognition in noisy environments."
"What happened was I realized... that this technology had a lot of use for cosmetic simulations," he said. "For example, showcasing lipstick products, because we had the exact boundary of the lips."
Modiface currently employs about 70 engineers, researchers and scientists, many of them at its head office near Bay and Bloor Streets.
Together, according to a statement, they've submitted more than 200 scientific publications and registered over thirty patents.
The company will remain in Toronto following its acquisition, according to CP, as Aarabi wants to continue teaching at, investing in, and forming research partnerships with U of T.
"ModiFace became what it is because of the excellent engineering talent in Toronto," he said. "It's a great place to have a tech company. We're very much not only interested in staying here, but also growing here as well."
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