TOKYO -- Japanese materials manufacturer AGC has developed a smart mirror that allows customers to apply makeup while receiving visual advice from beauty professionals on the same glass sheet -- a creation with the potential to help maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The product, comprising a special mirror placed atop a built-in monitor, can also let users try out various cosmetics virtually and check the results quickly in the mirror after making choices.
Many department stores in Japan now limit face-to-face consulting by beauty advisers due to the spread of COVID-19. The new device can help improve services by having customers perform self-makeup at the counter, an AGC official said.
AGC plans to start marketing the product called Mirroria, as early as in the first half of 2021.
A mirror is usually coated with metal film to reflect light. But as the film blocks light, it cannot be used on a display monitor. AGC, a major manufacturer of glass sheets for monitors, used its optical technology to create a mirror that does not need metal film.
Other companies have also developed similar products, but AGC's device can generate much sharper images both on the mirror and on the screen, an AGC official said. Previously, if users made displayed images brighter, reflections in the mirror became darker and more difficult to see.
In addition to selling Mirroria as a stand-alone product, AGC plans to collaborate with other companies to offer services linked to augmented reality and artificial intelligence. For example, when used with a virtual makeup app from Tokyo-based company Perfect, Mirroria can let users try out cosmetics such as lipstick and eye shadow and immediately check how they look in the mirror.
With a virtual makeover, consumers can also test various colored contact lenses and hair dyes as many times as they like. Using an online video that shows how to apply makeup, visitors to beauty counters at department stores can do so themselves without the help of advisers.
Reception desks are another place where Mirroria can be used effectively, said an AGC official. The device boots up automatically when a person approaches, activating virtual guides that give directions. It can be used as a regular mirror when the service is not needed.
A model measuring 60 cm x 30 cm will likely go for about 300,000 yen to 400,000 yen ($2,880 to $3,840). AGC aims for 100 million yen in sales by the end of next year.
"We have had trouble pitching products because our tests were behind schedule due to the pandemic," said Rumi Fujishiro, an AGC sales representative.
"But COVID-19 could make it easier for us to break into sectors where face-to-face services have been the norm," Fujishiro said.