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A splash of colour

A splash of colour

HP could soon be telling shoppers what colour lipstick to buy or whether to go for the red or the blue jacket with its new colour-matching prototype technology. The Colour Match mobile service, developed by HP Labs, combines colour science, imaging science and mobile networking technology to match colours that complement each other. It then uses the results to provide product advice over a mobile phone.

The technology could be used in anything that required the assessment of colour application, principal scientist of digital imaging and printing at HP Labs, Nina Bhatti, said. It was particularly applicable to cosmetics, where buyers could use the service to buy a product that matched their skin colour.

Users take a photograph of themselves while holding a specialised colour chart under their face. The picture is sent using MMS to an "advisory service" on a server. Software on the server seeks out corrections in the image - it locates the face, adjusts lighting and calibrates the colour. Then skin pixels culled from a person's face on the corrected image are compared to an existing database of previously analysed images. Based on the analysis, the advisory service sends a return SMS recommending what cosmetic colour and shades would best match the skin colour within seconds.

Among other applications, the service will be able to make recommendations on the right coloured ties, pants and suits, Bhatti said. Images can be taken with any phone camera and the mobile service will work with any service provider.

While the technology wasn't out yet, it was developed with the view of making it a consumer application, Bhatti said.

HP is now seeking partners to make this technology available to consumers.

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