But perhaps you shouldn't take it so seriously.

Amy  |  Singapore
Published 2014-10-09 13:00:54

This technology can estimate your age from your face and how long you have to live. All you need to do is upload a decent size photo according to the requirements (face forward, no smiles, well lit and hair pulled back), answer a few simple questions and voila! It will give you an estimate of your age and how long you have left to live.

FaceMyAge.com analyzes your face based on the uploaded picture and takes into account the answers on your lifestyle choices (smoking habits, drug habits, sun exposure, and marital status) to estimate your age and predict your lifespan. The program looks for sagging muscles and fat paddings on your face as well as skin discolorations and wrinkles by your eyes to estimate your current age (hence the ‘no smiles’ requirement).

Image Credit: Face My Age
Image Credit: Face My Age

Who’re Behind This?

This technology is realized by two teams: an Identity Sciences Team from University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), and a Demographic/Actuarial Sciences Team from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Jay Olshansky, a Professor at the University of Illinois and Research Associate at the University of Chicago initiated the project to determine the upper limits to human longevity as well as to find out the relations between health and aging. Using this website, he also means to gather a database of individuals from different populations groups in pursuit of increasing people’s lifespans. ‘

According to Dr Olshansky, the idea came to him over dinner with someone who worked for an insurance company. The friend lamented that it was difficult to access a person’s survival prospects in the limited time given, prompting Dr. Olshansky to find an alternative, scientific way of utilizing his expertise.

How Accurate Is it?

Image Credit: FaceYourAge.com
Image Credit: The Washington Post

Using a complicated algorithm and a vast database of faces, the program assesses the age of different parts of the face and estimates the current age of the person based on the mean. In the picture from The Washington Post, the program is able to accurately estimate the age of Tara Bahrampour within a few months.

The requirements are important! Grainy, low resolution pictures make people look older, as demonstrated in this Miley Cyrus picture:

Image Credit: FaceMyAge.com
Image Credit: Face My Age

Here’s a picture of Angelina Jolie at 37 years old (picture taken in 2012) presumably with no makeup on. The programs took a long hard look at those mesmerizing eyes, her luscious lips and those amazing jawline, swooned, and went, “Long Live Angie!”

Image Credit: FaceMyAge.com
Image Credit: Face My Age

The perceived age is calculated using analytic techniques developed by the Face Aging Group from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Depending on genetics, health and lifestyle a person may look significantly older (Like Miley Cyrus) or much younger (Angelina Jolie).

On the other hand, if the picture sufficiently covers the requirements, the program may just perceive your age to be within a few years of your actual age. For example, this picture of Justin Bieber right here:

Image Credit: FaceMyAge.com
Image Credit: Face My Age

Getting A Horribly Wrong Perceived Age?

No worries. The system is not perfect yet. Since the program estimates the age and lifespan based on pre-existing information, it is still imperfect. We’ll have to wait until, well… enough participants die of old age to gauge the accuracy of the program as well as to provide the database with information to work with. Grim, isn’t it? According to the Washington Post, it has recently managed to obtain thousands of photos taken of people who had subsequently died (presumably of old age).

That said, some ethnic groups have not been characterized due to lack of data. So maybe South East Asians won’t be getting much of an accurate gauge of their perceived age or lifespan. In addition, here are some things that will make you look older than you are too!

Image Credit: FaceMyAge.com
Image Credit: FaceMyAge.com

What Next?

Other than the obvious use by insurance companies, this information will (hopefully) be an eye opener (and life changer!) for users who have been practicing less than healthy lifestyles, who may be perceived to be much older than they actually are with a depressingly short lifespan. For example, tobacco smokers will have more wrinkles around the mouth, alcoholics will have larger noses and excessive exposure to sun and stress will have early brown spots and wrinkling.

Currently the program only gives your perceived age as a whole. However, soon, the team hopes to give individual ages from different spots of the face. Dr. Olshansky says that he hopes the face-age analysis will prompt participants to adopt healthier habits.

“If someone came to you and said that your life expectancy, for example, is five years from now, you would think pretty hard and long about what’s going on in your life,” Ricanek, the professor at University of North Carolina said. “It can make us wake up and change some of the things that we’re doing – maybe we’re stressing out too much about our job; maybe we need to make different life style decisions. I would like to shake people up.”

The program will be improved overtime with the number of participants submitting faces and ages into the website. In the meantime, we will have to make do with messing around with celebrity pictures from the net.

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