January 18, 2012 — Visitors to the Science Museum in London can have their faces scanned in 3D and see what they might look like in another dimension as part of a new program designed to help oromaxillofacial researchers.
The images taken during the project will be used to form the largest database of 3D facial images in the world and will help with vital research conducted by visiting surgeons from Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College Hospital, and Eastman Dental Hospital and Institute. The photographs will be used to study patterns in face shape, which could help the surgeons improve treatment for patients with facial disfigurement.
via DrBicuspid Imaging.
I find this interesting for several reasons.It is a perfect example of how digital technology allows us to gather and analyse data in much more effective ways than old fashioned paper systems. Expecting reserachers to pour over thousands of old fashioned printed photographs of faces and catalog any meaningful information is just silly. Yet with digital images and computer anyalysis it is quite possible. And the end result should be quite valuable.
I also think the plan to offer it as a fun novelty at a museum is brilliant. People are reluctant to give up their image for all kinds of reasons, some valid some not so valid. Making it a novelty erases the concern and gets people to spend the few moments needed to gather the scan.
I expect we will be learning amazing things from data base analysis in the future. We will look back to medicine and dentistry in the pre-digital days and think it as archaic as we now view leaches and bleeding. However at this time part of the challenge is how to gather meaningful digital data and how to use personal data in an ethical manner.