Here's a wise way to use computer facial-recognition technology - to find health problems. A computer program from the University of Oxford can identify rare conditions by analyzing a face from an ordinary digital photograph - even unknown genetic disorders.
"Clinicians skilled in the use of facial features to support diagnosis are few and far between," says Alastair Kent, director of the charity Genetic Alliance UK. "As a result, families frequently experience long delays – years rather than months – before they receive a diagnosis for their child."
The software developed by Christoffer Nellåker and Andrew Zisserman of the University of Oxford and their colleagues should help family doctors or general paediatricians make a preliminary diagnosis. "The idea is to offer it to health systems right across the world because all you need is a computer and a digital photo," says Nellåker.
The program was "taught" to recognize features by being fed 1,363 photos of people with eight genetic disorders. The computer learned to identify the disorders by noticnig 36 facial features in the photos, such as shape of eyes, brows, lips and noses.
Here's another way computers can help your health. Use this program to create a family health portrait.