(Inside Science TV) – They're young today but kids don't stay that way for long. What if you could get a sneak peek into what your favorite preschooler will look like as an adult?
Now, researchers have made that possible with software that uses a single picture to generate images of a child's in the future.
“It’s kind of like an immediate use of the algorithm that we developed," said Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, a computer scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Scientists collected pictures of different kids and adults from as early as infancy to as old as 100. Then, they used computer software to identify key points in their faces and consider them across different ages.
The software identifies the average change in facial shape and appearance – and generates a picture for any age.
“Then, we can create a transformation from say a 1-year-old to a 50-year-old," Kemelmacher-Shlizerman said.
It's a fun glimpse into the future and can help find missing kids by creating accurate age progressed photos quickly – without the need for an artist.
Kemelmacher-Shlizerman said that “having those photos is really important in the success of finding those kids.”
In a study, the researchers tested their computer-rendered images by comparing them to images of 82 actual people as they aged. When they asked random users to identify the correct aged photo, they found users picked the automatically rendered pictures as often as the real-life ones.
The automated age-progression software can run on a standard computer and scientists hope to offer the public a free app soon. In the future, they hope to incorporate more variables, such as ethnicity and hair color into the database for an even more accurate image.