L'Oreal turns to virtual reality to train hairdressers

And what they came up with is so much better than watching YouTube tutorials.


Out-of-town trainings and classes can cost aspiring hairdressers a pretty penny. L'Oréal's high-tech alternative could change that, though, and could even make learning more fun. The French cosmetics company teamed up with VR software maker 8i to create a new virtual reality curriculum for the Matrix Academy, L'Oréal's training program for fledgling hairstylists. Together, the two developed an immersive, room-scale VR experience where trainees can walk around and observe a virtual hairdresser style a virtual client's hair from every angle. They can even step into the hairdresser's position to get a first-person view of the process. That sounds so much better than watching YouTube tutorials, doesn't it?

Prior to teaming up with L'Oréal, 8i was having issues creating virtual hair, especially the frizzy type. But the two managed to find a way to fix that. 8i uses off-the-shelf cameras and automated software to record real hairstylists and models in order to create holograms out of them. The results, according to VentureBeat, are 3D photorealistic recordings, which they've presented at the Fast Company Innovation Festival.

This represents one of the many possible ways to take advantage of VR's capabilities outside of consumer-related applications. Businesses are starting to tap the power of VR -- a British financial institution, for instance, recently decided to interview potential employees by having them accomplish tasks in virtual environments. L'Oréal's VR-based curriculum will initially be available in 25 Matrix Academies in the US, but the cosmetics giant has plans to deploy it worldwide.