When Xinyi Hu learned that her team had won the top prize at the Alibaba Cloud Global AI Innovation Challenge (AI Challenge 2020), she was thrilled. Hu, a first-year student in UCI’s Master of Software Engineering Program (MSWE), served as a machine learning engineer on the seven-person Simei team. “I was super happy,” says Hu. “Many judges told us that our application is the best they’ve ever seen.”
The team spent five months building their innovative beauty application, which uses computer vision technology to offer personalized makeup tutorials. “Imagine that you saw a celebrity like Ariana Grande, and you love her makeup,” says Hu, “but you don’t know how to try it on, and you searched YouTube for tutorials of Ariana Grande’s makeup but found nothing.” The idea is that you could then use their application, which leverages face recognition and machine learning, to recreate the look following step-by-step instructions.
Along with the gold medal, the team won 100,000 yuan (approximately $15,000), which they plan to use to further invest in their product. “We want to devote more money to application development because we know there are still lots of gaps between reality and our application,” say Hu.
Her own long-term goal is to open a startup technology company, but in the short term, she’s focusing on completing the MSWE program and becoming a software or machine learning engineer. Of course, she’ll also continue working to advance this award-winning application, which she hopes will help women and girls feel more confident. “I provided technical support and invented algorithms and apps for our products,” she says, adding that through this work, “I came to see the power of technology.”
— Shani Murray