This time last year, there was a pretty big fuss about FindFace, an app that uses facial recognition to discover people’s identities with pretty high reliability. But for 33-year-old Fu Gui from China, facial recognition technology turned out to be life changing. It helped him find his family and reunite with them after being apart for 27 years.
— Baidu Research (@BaiduResearch) April 14, 2017
It began in 2009, when Fu recalled memories of his earliest childhood with a family that wasn’t known to him. Back then, he uploaded a photo of himself at the age of ten to China’s database for missing children. Eight years passed, and there was no result. But then, in early 2017, someone uploaded a photo of a four-year-old boy from Chongqing to the database.
After a couple of weeks, Baidu’s facial recognition technology found the list of potential matches among the thousands of photos. Finally, it managed to match Fu’s photo with the one of the younger boy, uploaded 8 years later. The algorithm works in a way that it compares individual face parts of the face, but it accounts for the changes that come with growing up. Thanks to this feature, Fu got the confirmation that he was the same boy in both photos, and he found his biological family after almost three decades.
After the matching images, came the DNA test. It proved that Fu is indeed the four-year-old boy in the image his family posted to the database. He was one of 70,000 kids who went missing in 1990 after traffickers abducted them and sold them off. But thanks to the advanced AI, he and his family were reunited at last.
Although facial recognition technology can be scary, this story shows its good side and one of its useful applications. Of course, it can be harmful in wrong hands, but it’s the case with many other kinds of technology. In this case, it served a good purpose and helped bringing a family back together. And hopefully, there will be many more families who will be able to reunite this way.