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L’Oréal and Alibaba create AI-based app to offer self-care support for acne sufferers

Artificial intelligence-based app will help acne sufferers access dermatology treatment with greater ease

L’Oréal has joined forces with Chinese retail giant Alibaba Group to create an artificial intelligence (AI)-based app to help acne sufferers seek out the correct treatment to self-manage their condition more effectively.

The La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Spotscan app is designed to provide users with accessible and accurate professional advice on how best to treat their specific type of acne when they upload a selfie to the service.

L’Oréal provided 6,000 scientific images of acne-covered skin to Alibaba’s AI team, who used the information to create a neural network model capable of analysing users’ pictures to establish a link between the selfie’s contents and the type of acne the person is presenting with.

The app is being billed by both parties as the first of its kind, and initially will be available only in China, where there is only one dermatologist per 60,000 inhabitants, the companies claim.

Yeming Wang, general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Alibaba Cloud, said millions of people in China stand to benefit from the app, and in time, so will the rest of the world.

“Through AI technology, acne sufferers can now gain a better understanding of the state of their skin and choose the skincare solutions that are right for them in an effective and convenient manner without even having to leave their homes,” said Wang.

“We are very pleased to join hands with L’Oréal Group, and to contribute ‘Chinese intelligence’ to this innovation that can truly benefit every consumer.

“This is yet another instance in which Alibaba and L’Oréal have achieved a perfect, consumer-oriented match of beauty and technology within our strategic partnership.”

Read more about cloud-focused tech tie-ups

Stéphane Rinderknech, CEO of L’Oréal China, said the project marks a new chapter in the company’s relationship with Alibaba, which has previously seen the pair draw on the retailer’s data to hone marketing campaigns and product development processes.

“China is an important digital innovation hub, leading and inspiring the digital transformation of our industry,” said Rinderknech. “The launch of La Roche-Posay Effaclar Spotscan is a milestone in our partnership with Alibaba, aimed at providing disruptive beauty experiences and services.”

Lubomira Rochet, chief digital officer at L’Oréal, added: “This launch perfectly illustrates our vision of beauty, diversified and accessible to all, tailored to the needs and aspirations around the world and powered by digital.”

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