Imagine… John Lennon at 64

Thursday 7 October 2004

Scientists have created an image of how John Lennon would have looked today if he were still alive, using the latest in computer technology.

The psychologists and computer scientists at the University of St Andrews have created the computer-generated image, which shows the former Beatle as he might have looked on his 64th birthday tomorrow. The singer died aged 40 when he was shot in New York by Mark Chapman on 8 December 1980.

Elisabeth Cornwell from the University’s Perception Lab used ‘ageing’ software to reproduce the natural effects of ageing, taking into account changes in skin texture, hairline and hair colour. The lab used the cover image from the retrospective 1982 album The John Lennon Collection, in which he was aged 40, as a starting point. 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 Perception Lab worked in conjunction with Dr Bernard Tiddeman from the School of Computer Science to develop software to manipulate facial images. The team have previously created aged images of Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, who both died at a young age, and more recently of Elvis Presley aged 68.

The ageing software 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, race or even perceived personality attributes, and can also produce artificial art using blends of portraits.

The ageing software could be used for assisting with missing person inquiries, particularly those who have been missing for many years and will look considerably different.

Those interested in seeing how they will look in the future can use simplified software to transform their own image at the Perception Lab’s webpage.

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews.

Category Research

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