Scots scientists have revealed that facial barcodes allow us to recognise celebrities like Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. Human faces contain "barcodes" that help us recognise each other, Scots scientists have revealed via STV.
Experts at the University of Stirling claim that facial features - including eyes, lips and eyebrows - can be organised into black and white horizontal lines. The resulting codes operate much like the barcodes found on supermarket items, allowing people to recognise one another.
The scientists carried out the study by manipulating famous faces such as Chris Martin, actor Marlon Brando and Hollywood star George Clooney. They discovered that all the necessary information for identification is contained in the lines of the eyebrows, eyes and lips.
Professor Roger Watt, of Stirling University, and Dr Steven Dakin, of University College London, analysed a variety of natural images - such as flowers and landscapes - and found that faces are unique in conveying their useful information in horizontal lines. In one experiment the researchers turned the facial features of Godfather actor Marlon Brando into a barcode. They found that when his face is squashed or stretched, viewed from an angle or cast in shadows, Brando is still easily recognisable because the barcode representation remains relatively unchanged.
The researchers believe their discovery could improve face-recognition software and contribute to advanced CCTV cameras. The study may also help explain the human ability to see faces where they do not exist - for example in clouds or in flames.
Dr Dakin explained: "Exposed skin on our forehead and cheeks tends to be shiny whilst our eyebrows and lips and the shadows cast in the eye sockets and under the nose tend to be darker. The resulting horizontal stripes of information are reminiscent of a supermarket barcode. To improve face recognition software, we need to look towards biology and see how we have solved the problem.”