It can be tempting to turn off your webcam during a video call, especially on days when you don’t look your best. For Teams users, Microsoft is introducing a new AI-powered cosmetic feature designed to “make people’s lives a little easier.” On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a new set of “virtual makeover” filters in Microsoft Teams, similar to the face-changing effects seen on social media like TikTok, with the Bold Glamor feature developed by cosmetics giant Maybelline.
The Maybelline Beauty app will offer Teams users 12 unique looks with a choice of different blur effects and digital makeup color options. Each look will feature real-life Maybelline products and shades reproduced by the filter, allowing users to recreate the actual makeup on their face. Companies often use these virtual ‘samples’ to promote their products, but corporate workplace software is an unusual place to encourage users to explore different makeup options.”
The AI technology used to create the virtual makeup filters was developed by Modiface, a company specializing in the creation of augmented reality in the beauty industry. Modiface technology is one of the most popular offerings for virtual makeup trials and is used by various beauty companies such as Sephora and Estée Lauder. Maybellines parent company L’Oreal capitalized on that popularity back in 2018 by acquiring Modiface for an undisclosed sum.
The filters were also developed in collaboration with the Geena Davis Institute, a non-profit public organization dedicated to promoting inclusion and diversity in the media, to ensure virtual makeup is suitable for “a broad and diverse population.”
The new feature is rolling out to Microsoft Teams global enterprise users starting today and is found under the Video Effects tab in Teams meeting settings.
It’s a bit odd to think that beauty filters have a place in professional communication apps outside of social media. There is ample evidence that filters designed to enhance or otherwise manipulate appearance can be detrimental to mental health due to the unrealistic expectations they set for our body image. While these AR/AI filter effects used to be easily recognizable as they distorted when the user’s face was covered, lately, such as in the infamous TikTok “Bold Glamor” effect, it has become much more difficult to detect.
However, the potential risk to self-esteem hasn’t discouraged people from using these beauty filters in work applications. Other video conferencing platforms like Zoom already include some limited beauty effects like eyebrow and lipstick filters. The Maybelline Beauty app in Teams provides more options and customization, which can be more enticing to play with – especially if they look natural enough to not stand out from fellow sufferers.
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