BeauteCam is an iPhone app for analyzing human skin quality from photos taken with phone’s integrated camera. Using an aftermarket 27x macro lens that is attached to the service of the iPhone’s camera, BeauteCam analyzes a macro shot of the user’s skin and suggests ways to improve aesthetics and skin health.
It’s likely that BeauteCam probably employs some form of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) algorithm to search for indicators of various skin conditions. According to their description, this seems to take place serverside.
Easy to use – BeauteCam is already available in both English and Japanese.
Great applications – BeauteCam’s analysis engine provides some applications. What if you could use BeauteCam to recommend if a mole was dangerous (not that difficult of an OCR problem)? How about suggesting various types of makeup to compliment a user’s type of skin.
Requires peripheral – For BeauteCam to work a user has to have the macro lens attachment.
English translation / style – While BeauteCam is pretty decently localized for something that seems like it came out of a hackathon, there are still some English translation and style quirks. An American designer could really help spruce up product quality.
Team is in Japan – Without a domestic or at least internationalized marketing and biz dev staff, it’s going to be difficult for BeauteCam to capitalize on their first mover advantage and source larger deals with the major European and American makeup giants.
Scaling? – From their description, BeauteCam does all analysis server-side. With this architecture scaling is going to be a big concern. If BeauteCamtakes off, have their engineers built an infrastructure that can deal with booming usage (both from a network and processing/computing point of view)? Most OCR algorithms are processing-intensive. Dirty “hack” solutions or a lack of optimization can come back to seriously bite these guys later.
First mover advantage – While apps like MyDerm and SkinTracker exist to gauge skin condition, BeauteCam firmly targets the beauty use-case.
Monetization opportunities – Makeup companies are eager to find sales and marketing opportunities online. According to their 10K reports, makeup giants MAC and L’Oreal have grown their multi-million dollar social media budgets steadily over the last four years. BeauteCam could very well serve as a “makeup recommendation engine,” allowing the app’s creators revenue opportunities via referral sales and advertising deals.
Heavy competition in adjacent markets- While BeauteCam has targeted an under-served use case, there are other skin analysis apps on the market. With some development work, they could be copied or ported in order to build a “BeauteCam-killer.”BeauteCam needs to move quickly in order to secure favorable (and ideally exclusive) contracts with beauty stores and makeup companies.
Other startups replicating their technology – BeauteCam’s technology is probably not prohibitively difficult to replicate. If the app’s creators do not take advantage of their favorable market position, they risk finding themselves opposed against a foreign firm copied their app and who can better source deals with American and European firms.
SF New Tech Contributor Andrew “Andy” Manoske is a PM by day, hacker by night, and sometimes in the evening he fights crime. He currently serves as a product manager at NetApp – the youngest in the company’s history – and previously held technical positions at SAP, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts. He received his Bachelors of Arts in Economics and Computer Science from San Jose State University in 2010, and was a finalist in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition and the Silicon Valley Neat Ideas Fair.