H-P To Offer Color-Matching Technology

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) has long helped people pick computers and printers. Now the company wants to help consumers pick the right makeup.

The computer maker has developed a technology that helps match colors that complement each other. It is targeted - at least initially - for use in the sale of cosmetics.

The invention is part of a larger effort inside the company to get more of its technologies developed in H-P Labs out into the market.

H-P's technology relies on snapping a picture of a person's face next to a specially designed color chart, typically using a cellphone camera as a customer is visiting a cosmetics counter. That picture is then sent electronically to special servers operated by the Palo Alto, Calif., company.

There the color of the person's skin is adjusted for variations caused by lighting and camera differences to a standard color chart, and then compared to a database of skin tones. In seconds, H-P says, the system responds with a text message suggesting what shade of make-up would look best on them based on their skin tone.

'Our goal was to achieve the same competency as a makeup artist,' says Nina Bhatti, a principal scientist at H-P Labs.