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March 26, 2014

By Charlie Osborne

Thanks to Guido Cassetta for directing us to this post!


New technology will allow scientists to print accurate 3D models of human faces using only DNA as their guide.

Mark Shriver of Pennsylvania State University and his team have been gathering 3D images of hundreds of volunteers and their saliva over the past several months. These photographs have then been used to find over 7,000 points of reference from facial features, then fed in to software which finds similarities between DNA, sex, race and facial features.

Shriver found that 20 genes with only 24 variants were “reliable indicators” of a person’s facial shape — including eye shape, nose, forehead, cheeks and chin. Once plotted, these features could then be constructed through the program and 3D-printed to produce a copy of the person’s face.

The researchers said:

“Results on a set of 20 genes showing significant effects on facial features provide support for this approach as a novel means to identify genes affecting normal-range facial features and for approximating the appearance of a face from genetic markers.”

Based on this discovery, Shriver and his team want to make the system even more reliable, and now aim to plot 30,000 different points on each face.

Thousands of crimes go unsolved every year, and facial recall by witnesses is far from an exact science. However, if DNA could be gathered at a crime scene — whether hair, saliva or fluid — and then a reliable model of the suspect’s face could be produced, more criminals could be caught, and there would be fewer wrongly convicted people due to faulty recall of someone’s face.

Read on: 3DPrint.com

Image credit: Flickr

— By Charlie Osborne

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure