If you’re looking for the beauty mecca of the world, Tokyo is it. There, you can find stores full of false lashes and buy collagen shots alongside your Diet Coke. Makeup artists and manicurists flock there regularly to smuggle back nail decals, eyeshadow brushes, and finely milled blushes in bulk. In fact, for the 10 million tourists who visit the capital each year, the number-three purchase is cosmetics. There’s just one problem: Multiple language barriers can make the traditional makeup counter experience a challenge for shoppers. But Creativity Online reports that Ainz&Tulpe, the country's largest makeup store, has found its solution in the form of interactive shop windows.
The front of the store features a giant touchscreen display, which has moving images with varying makeup looks. Customers are encouraged to choose their favorite look, and with the help of facial recognition, they receive coupons and how-to tips in their native language. Yep, the sensor is able to detect whether a person speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, etc., just from a quick scan of their visage. If your gut reaction is, Wait, what? How can this possibly work? followed by, Isn't this literally judging a book by its cover? you're not alone. "Interesting, for sure...if somewhat politically incorrect," American-blogger-turned-expat-in-Japan Cynthia Popper weighed in over email. "What concerns me about this software is that there's a level of racial profiling in it that will invariably be inaccurate. Expats or tourists in Japan aren't a monolithic group of English speakers — there are lots of Russian and Portuguese people living there as well...so [how will] this software be able to determine the correct language based on image capture?" Although facial recognition software isn't entirely new (Shiseido's been using a handheld device to help customers pick foundation shades for years), this is the first of its kind that Popper has seen in the country. And according to the above video, the screens have already increased tourist visits to stores by 40%. Daily sales have risen by 10%. While these windows seem super-cool on the surface, they're likely far from perfect. Regardless, there's no doubt technology has evolved tremendously from our '90s fascination with Cher's virtual closet in Clueless — and we can't wait to see what our friends in Silicon Valley, Japan, and beyond have planned next. (We're still waiting on that self-applying eyeliner, wink, wink).