Hewlett-Packard's HP Labs has developed a color-matching technology that could change the way people shop for products that require color coordination, such as clothing and cosmetics. Consumers use their mobile phones to take pictures of themselves or objects, and then send the pictures to HP servers. Within seconds, the consumer receives a text message with a color recommendation for matching makeup to their skin tone, or for finding the right color for a sweater or paint.

Instead of sitting down with a consultant at a makeup counter, a shopper photographs herself with a mobile phone camera while holding a specially designed color reference chart obtained at a makeup counter or from a magazine. The picture is uploaded to HP servers, and software compares the values of the color-reference chart in the picture with the accepted values for those colors. Face-detection software finds the person's face and color-corrects it for lighting discrepancies. The color is then compared with a database of 260 women with different skin tones. In seconds, the consumer receives a text message recommending the makeup color that looks best on the woman in the database with a similar skin tone.

The technology works with any mobile service on any mobile phone equipped with a camera. The technology could be used to find the correct color for furniture, rugs, and paint, and for healthcare providers and others needing a high level of color or image coordination.

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