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HP Labs is launching new technology aimed at helping women find the right shade of make up to suit their skin tone.

The firm, which is better known for more conventional IT applications, has developed colour matching technology that could potentially change the way women buy cosmetics.

Using a digital camera, such as one found on a mobile phone, and a specific colour chart, women can consult with a computer to get tips on the best shade of make up for them. A picture is taken of the customer at a cosmetics counter holding the specific colour chart. This image is then fed into the store's computer and sent to special servers in Palo Alto in California.

The technology aims to account for difficulties caused by variations in in-store lighting by using the special colour chart as a means of comparison. The software then provides the customer with a recommended shade to suit their skin tone.

"HP's colour matching technology provides retailers and consumer goods companies with a new, fun way to interact with customers and promote their products," said Nina Bhatti, principal scientist, Digital Imaging and Printing Lab, HP Labs.

"For those who shop for cosmetics, this technology gives them a virtual beauty consultant in the palm of their hands."

HP is looking at partnering with cosmetics firms and retailers to make the technology available to consumers.

© 2007 ENN

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