Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Facing Our Future: Facial Scanning Technology & Clues to Longevity

Facing Our Future: Facial Scanning Technology & Clues to Longevity

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It’s undeniable, we are all aging, each day and every minute. There is, after all, no stopping the steady march of time.

We can all admit — or choose to ignore — that we look older now than we did when we were teenagers or even thirty something.

Little did we know, however, that our face possibly is sending out clues to how long we might live!

How is this possible? Technology of course!

We recently learned of researchers who believe our faces are a window into our overall health.

Let’s see what that means and what they’re up to now.

Technology is Reading our Faces

Facial recognition technology isn’t just looking for criminals anymore on an episode of NCIS, CSI or (name your dramatic show or movie). Don’t get us wrong — it’s wonderful that technology is capable of taking a child’s face and aging it to see how that long ago missing child will now look as an adult in the hope of reuniting a family.

It’s even better that the technology of reading faces is becoming much more and could impact how we manage our health.

Scientists have begun working on a computer system that can analyze the changes seen in our faces brought on by aging and interpreting how that might affect our longevity.

It seems that how we look, the wrinkles we knew were there and the skin sags we dread may tell us how long we will live too. Do we want to know?

Who’s Interested in this Data?

You may wonder why anyone would be interested in looking at our faces and guessing how long we will live. This look could, however, tell us things we didn’t realize.

Insurance underwriters are very interested in the validity of this facial recognition advancement. They would love to look at our age spots, wrinkles and saggy skin in a scientific way if it will give them a hint at how long a life we will be expected to live.

Researchers say that some people grow older faster than others and still others tend to ease into age more slowly when looking at the signs on their faces. It seems that their children also follow suit with aging as their ancestors did.

Because this particular research is still in the very early stages, there is not yet conclusive information about the accuracy we can expect from the predictions. We need more longitudinal information and they are collecting that from us and, especially, centenarians.

Facial Scanning – How it’s Done

Facial recognition will be done by scanning a photograph of a face into a computer. An algorithm will then will look for specific determinants of aging, including race, gender, education, smoking history, and more.

The computer will scan our cheek, eye, brow, forehead, nose, mouth and jowl looking for lines, dark spots, drooping and other signs of aging. It will then compare our faces to others to forecast our health in comparison with like individuals already in the facial database arriving at a perceived age. The database is called Face My Age and it is accepting photos without smiles or makeup if you would like to contribute.

The insurance companies are indeed very interested in seeing this research come to fruition. They can see a great deal of potential to use the information to help them set premiums based on how healthfully we are aging. One can only imagine that they will be able to hypothesize how much healthcare we may need in the future or how long (how many premiums will be paid) someone will live before the life insurance is paid out.

Even more importantly for most of us, there are others waiting to use this information for our benefit, including health advocates, financial institutions and other scientists. We can benefit too!

How We Can Benefit from Our Facial Revelations

We can also benefit when we are armed with this type of information, especially if the science proves to be a valid indicator.

If we know that our skin is showing signs of aging quickly and not necessarily healthfully, we can get a move on to make some changes in our lifestyle that may help our longevity. We will want to be healthy enough to enjoy all the years in our life so may benefit from changes.

Some changes we may want to make:

  1. Find ways to control our stress
  2. Eat right (or better anyway) – consume sources of antioxidants
  3. Get some activity – 15 – 30 minutes a day would help
  4. Stop smoking
  5. Sleep – try for 7 – 8 hours a night
  6. Get a hobby – become socially and mentally engaged in something you enjoy

There are many different organizations, in the US and worldwide, studying aging and longevity. The social and economic implications an aging population can have on society can be overwhelming if we are not prepared. It is a very real possibility that living to be 100 could be the norm and it will be very important that our quality of life matches our years.

Great Technology, but Cautioned Warranted

Protections are needed if facial scanning possibilities pan out. There could be potential for abuse of this information, such as employers who won’t hire or promote someone based on the information from a facial scan or discriminate in some way based on the data. Insurance companies could also use it to keep people from getting insured or even give them a reason to charge higher premiums.

It is important to remember there is a long way to go before this information is viable and working through the many variables, such as race, obesity or thinness, chronic disease, medications, and a myriad of other factors that could change a person’s appearance will likely take many years.

Hopefully what this endeavor using technology should alert us to is the need to stay on course with all the healthy lifestyle changes we know we should make but maybe haven’t quite started to do yet.

You can impact how well you age and even your longevity with a few changes, it’s not too late yet!

2 Responses to Facing Our Future: Facial Scanning Technology & Clues to Longevity

  1. Another area of facial scanning that intrigues me is emotion recognition. This technology which has been developed for marketing purposes could help us recognize and understand our moods throughout the day. I imagine a caregiver who is on an emotional roller coaster being warned about an impending decline in their mood because of prolonged frowning or signs of anger. This could be an indicator even before blood pressure. Emotion recognition could even help the Alzheimer’s patient by recognizing how a picture or music affects their mood. Imaging a music player that knows to switch the song because mom doesn’t like country music today and would prefer the Rat Pack.

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