When I’m 64

Dave Wilson describes some new software that that reproduces the natural effects of ageing, taking into account changes in skin texture, hairline and hair colour.

<b>’Too soon, you vanished out of my dream. Too late, to start all over it seems…’ – How about me (Irving Berlin).</b>

It was over twenty years ago today that John Lennon, the former member of the popular sixties group ‘The Beatles’ was murdered in New York aged 40. One can only imagine what wonderful songs Mr. Lennon would be composing if he were here today.

But one thing that we no longer have to imagine is what Mr. Lennon might look like today if he were still alive. Because now, scientists at the University of St. Andrews have created an image of how he would look using software that reproduces the natural effects of ageing, taking into account changes in skin texture, hairline and hair colour.

They used the cover image from the retrospective 1982 album ‘The John Lennon Collection’, in which he was aged 40, as a starting point. And then the process of ageing was mimicked by changing the texture and shape of the original image to simulate the changes in the skin that would occur between the ages of 40 and 60.

The ageing software itself first produces average faces by blending together face images from many individuals. The average of a young group and another of the old group are used to define an ‘ageing transform’ which can be applied to an individual face. The same software can also change the face in other ways such as changing the apparent sex or race of the subject and can also produce ‘artificial art’ using blends of portraits.

The ageing software has a very practical use. It could be used for assisting with missing person enquiries, particularly for those folks who have been missing for many years and will look considerably different today.

But for those of us who have a more than a passing interest in what we might look like in twenty years time, the researchers have developed a web-based interactive demonstration of a simplified version of their software at <link>Perceptionlab.com=http://www.perceptionlab.com</link>. Once on the site you can upload a current image of your face and watch ‘The Face Transformer’ show you what you might look like many years from now.

And hopefully, God willing, you will be around long enough to see whether the computer prediction from the team at St. Andrews is accurate or not. Unlike the unfortunate singer/songwriter.