An RFID Makeup Test That Goes Well Beyond Cosmetics

An innovative RFID trial in Tokyo is using RFID-tagged lipstick to record when various samples are tried as well as to give store clerks full customer history of products purchased as well as tried.

The trial?involving retail chain Mitsukoshi, cosmetics company Shiseido and RFID vendor Fujitsu?also offers consumers a "virtual real-time makeup" session featuring a camera-equipped kiosk, display and RFID tag reader "that will enable customers to view on the display how particular products would look on their face by waving tagged cosmetic products such as lipsticks or eyeshadows over the tag reader," the companies said in a statement.

Anticipating a time when customers will want to do these visual adjustments at home, the trial is also giving 50 consumers tagged makeup, PCs and tag readers so they can play with the makeup at home, while their every choice is recorded with their customer profile.

The trial will also leverage the trends of "social retailing" and "collaborative selling," which are fancy terms for leveraging the opinions of strangers to influence purchases. Touch-screen displays will allow customers "to view word-of-mouth information about the products from other customers by waving tagged testers over the tag readers.

The trials started Jan. 26 and are scheduled to run through Feb. 12, all sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Giving some hint into the number of people involved in the project, this trial is actually a part of a METI-sponsored project that is technically commissioned to the Japan Department Store Association that has been given the catchy name "The 2007 Field Trial for Improving Distribution and Logistics Efficiency through the Use of Electronic Tags." If this was an American project, we'd already be calling it FTIDLEUET (to be pronounced Fatid-Loo-it by the geekier among us).

Although the at-home and virtual makeup mirrors are cutting edge, the bulk of the trial is simply using the tagged products to display makeup details on a touch-screen terminal.