Alphabet’s life-science subsidiary Verily is teaming up with cosmetic giant L’Oréal in an effort to better understand skin care and develop new digital tools in the dermatology space. The partners plan to study dermatological health over time to better understand the environment and aging’s impact on skin and the “deep biology of the skin.”
Verily’s R&D team and L’Oréal’s Active Cosmetic Division plan to work together to develop new digital technologies and diagnostic products for skin care, according to the release. The companies said that the new products could include AI algorithms or sensors.
“We recognize skin health as a critical need for overall wellness as it not only impacts us physically in our daily lives, but also holistically. Our collective approach has the potential to identify the right intervention based on data, powered by Verily’s technology and clinical science abilities combined with L’Oréal’s beauty industry leading intelligence and dermatology network,” said Brian Otis, fellow and cofounder of Verily.
WHY IT MATTERS
Skin conditions are common in the U.S. Some of the most common skin conditions include acne, atopic dermatitis, hair loss, psoriasis, rosacea and skin cancer. In fact, skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the U.S., according to the CDC. The American Academy of Dermatology Association reports that more than 1 million Americans are living with melanoma.
L’Oréal and Verily pitched the new collaboration effort as a way to better understand skincare and incorporate technology into the space.
THE LARGER TREND
Verily’s sister company Google unveiled a preview of its AI-powered dermatology assistant that runs on web-based applications last year. The tool lets users upload photos from their camera onto the platform. Users then answer a series of questions about their condition, skin type and other symptoms. The tool is then able to give users a list of possible matches, with the most relevant at the top of the search.
L’Oreal has a history in the digital health space. In 2016, it announced a smartphone-connected adhesive patch that monitors a user’s UV exposure.
While dermatology tools are rising in popularity, research in the Lancet found that publicly available datasets used to train skin cancer diagnostic tools lack ethnicity and skin type data.