Monthly Archives: September 2007

Matching a face to a photo is trickier than once thought

According to research by Rob Jenkins at the University of Glasgow, matching a face to a photo is more difficult than once thought.

Both humans and computers struggle to match people's faces to their photos, says Rob Jenkins. When volunteers were presented with six different images of him and six of another man, most failed to spot which face was which.

Our brain uses a highly specialised region to recognise familiar faces called the FFA (fusiform face area, an area of the brain nestled between the outer segment and the centre). Despite being able locate the FFA using modern imaging techniques, scientists still don't know how it works. Therefore, Dr Jenkins and his team have developed a new technique by mimicking nature's solution to extract the essence of a face.

They use around 12 pictures of a single face in a variety of different environments and poses to find the "average" face. Amazingly, the "average" face has advantages over a "normal" face in almost every situation.

It seems that the only open question is whether or not you will need to submit a dozen different passport photos next time you apply for a passport. If that happens, is here to help you!