Alibaba and L'Oreal bring new acne-analysing app to China

PHOTO: Alizila

In an objectively good use of artificial intelligence, Alibaba and L’Oréal have announced plans to bring a revolutionary new acne-testing app to Taobao and TMall.

The app is La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Spotscan, which was unveiled earlier this year. The goal is to bring better skincare to the masses, as many people don’t exactly have access to professional (and often costly) dermatological services. By launching on a platform like Taobao, Effaclar Spotscan hopes to become a household name in China.

La Roche-Posay’s parent company, L’Oréal, has thousands of images of acne-afflicted skin, which were used to create a neural network model for acne testing at Alibaba’s machine-learning lab, DAMO Academy. Effaclar Spotscan works on — you guessed it — selfies. Acne-prone users can choose three selfies (left, center, and right profiles) to create a customised test report that includes an acne severity score, as well as skincare advice.

If your acne situation is particularly severe, the app will help connect you to dermatological consultation. The app also detects blackheads, pigmentation, and regular pimples, although with Asia’s skincare-obsessed culture, we’re not sure if we really need an app to tell us if we have zits.

Wang Yeming talks about Effaclar Spotscan at Paris' Viva Technology conferencePhoto: Alizila

At Viva Technology Paris earlier this year, Alibaba’s Wang Yeming pitched Effaclar Spotscan’s wider availability as a greater good. “Through AI technology, [consumers] can now gain a better understanding of the state of their skin...without even having to leave their homes,” he explained. He also described Alibaba’s contribution as “‘Chinese intelligence’... that can truly benefit every consumer.”

Privacy-minded netizens will probably have a few interesting thoughts on how Alibaba will be using thousands of photos of people’s faces.

The app will launch on Taobao and Tmall apps in June 2019. Stay tuned for more release information on other platforms.

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