How P&G harnessed AI to create ‘first of its kind’ Olay Skin Advisor

Procter & Gamble (P&G) has used proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create a Skin Advisor service for its Olay brand, a project that was two years in development. The Drum talked to the scientists behind it as they unveiled it at Mobile World Congress.

The technology was built as a solution to the frustration that women feel when it comes to skincare brands, which have spent years coming up with a myriad of products promising to cure all manner of skin problems. P&G watched as more and more women sought help from in-store advisors, but noticed that they were feeling equally intimidated by the pressure to then buy from a specific brand.

“We’re one of the leaders in the skincare world, and we’ve seen over the years that although it’s a very high engagement category for women, it’s become one of the most frustrating and confusing to shop,” Dr. Frauke Neuser, principal scientist at P&G's Olay, told The Drum.

“There are hundreds of brands, and thousands of products and everything makes great promises. [It's so overwhelming] that women have arrived at a point where they have no idea what’s right for them.”

Olay’s Skin Advisor is a web based technology platform that uses artificial intelligence to help women learn more about their skin, what it needs and – of course - the right skincare products to help.

Users take a no-makeup selfie and then fill in a questionnaire about their current skincare regimen.

During the development phase, millions of selfies were collected and an algorithm was created to spot the key "aging zones" (the forehead, cheek, mouth, crow’s feet, and under-eye).

Olay is then able to pinpoint exactly where on a person's face might need a product, recommend what they should use as well as advise on when their skin is looking good.

The AI sitting behind the service will get better at making recommendations as more women upload their selfies. It’s already been used over 1 million times since a beta version was launched last September in North America and with over 80 million women using Olay products around the world, P&G is confident that it will get better with time.

“AI is not a technology of the future – it’s transforming our world today,” said Greg Estes, vice president of developer programs at NVIDIA, whose GPU-accelerated deep learning platform was used to train Olay Skin Advisor’s neural network.

“Olay and other leading brands are using AI to infuse devices and apps with intelligence, bringing new experiences, unprecedented personalisation and real benefits to people’s lives.”

Watch the video to find out more.

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