On Tuesday, Google Cloud announced the wider availability of Vertex AI, a managed machine learning platform that allows outside companies to accelerate their own AI models. L’Oréal’s ModiFace has already begun working with Google’s Vertex AI to improve its own machine learning model by providing the beauty tech tool more data points to be more realistic for users, said Jeff Houghton, chief operating officer at ModiFace. Houghton said this capability is ripe for the moment, considering how much consumer behavior has changed around virtual try-on.

“[When we] originally launched these types of [AI or AR] products, it was for marketing or fun. People came to play with them to show their friends or to share on social media,” he said. “With the onset of Covid, we’ve certainly seen an acceleration in the number of users that we get to our services and websites. People want the experiences they were having in-store, in their home. While in-store experiences will continue to be very important, they can be enriched with beauty-tech services.” Houghton said that Vertex AI will be layered onto ModiFace’s own machine learnings from its offices.

Ulta Beauty is one example of a retailer leaning heavily on virtual try-on in-store. Kecia Steelman, Ulta Beauty chief store operations officer, previously said that the usage of its technology increased by 1,200% in 2020. The retailer has had over 171 million try-on sessions through its Glam Lab virtual try-on app during Covid-19.

Houghton said ModiFace has new products launching for L’Oréal’s brands in the coming year, and he is just as confident about AR and AI for skin care as he is for makeup. “The faces we had on our sites a decade ago weren’t as realistic or fast as they are today. Consumers don’t just want gamification anymore. They want to see themselves as accurate as possible [in order] to make a purchase,” he said.