UNCW Professor Pioneers Face Aging Technology

Aug 25, 2014

Your face may be revealing more than you think.  A UNCW computer science professor is developing new technology to predict how long a person may live based on a current photo. 

The face gives a lot away – stress levels, smoking and alcohol habits, sun exposure, and more.  Dr. Karl Ricanek, Director of Face Aging Group (now known as the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies in Identity Sciences), is using these facial indicators to predict lifespan.  Face My Age, the group’s database of submitted photographs, collects photos and biographical data and provides feedback on how quickly the individual is aging.  Dr. Ricanek says an algorithm calculates the age of your face, which may be different from your biological age:

"The website will return things like your lifespan and the probability of making it to certain ages.  What we’re finding is that older individuals who are closer to retirement, they love both of these things.  This information that we provide helps them to sort of understand how much money they need to have or how long they really need to plan for."

This technology may also be used by the cosmetics and plastic surgery industry, as well as for age progression photos depicting missing persons.  And in a person’s daily life, a face-age analysis may encourage them to adopt healthier habits.

But the technology will be put to the test as current study participants die and the computer algorithm adjusts former predictions to those realities.