By now you may have seen Microsoft’s age estimating software, www.how-old.net. If you have not, it is a simple website that estimates the ages of people in photos you upload. Using it is a lot of fun. But, how does how-old.net determine the person’s age?
While the details of the algorithm are not known, I have done some experimenting with pictures of myself and Photoshop to try and get some answers. First, I uploaded an un-retouched picture of myself to get my age. Then I retouched specific areas to see what impact they would have on my estimated age. The results are very interesting.
My baseline picture
The photo above is un-retouched. When I uploaded it into how-old.net, it computed that I look 47.
Removing lower eyelid hollows and wrinkles
The first thing I changed was to reduce the hollowness and remove the wrinkles under my eyes.
Low and behold, that shaved 5 years off! The cosmetic procedures that we can use to do this in real life are Botox under the eyes, fillers into the hollows under the eyes, and fractional CO2 resurfacing of the lower eyelids.
Filling the temples
Next, I wondered what would happen if I filled my temples. So, I used Photoshop to make my temples look a little less hollow. In the following picture, I only changed my temples. I reverted my under eye hollows and wrinkles back to baseline.
Enlarging my eyes
Next, I decided to play around with the openness of my eyes. Babies have big eyes, so it would make sense that the computer may think people with bigger eyes look younger. It turns out, it does.
Just by using Photoshop to expand my eyes a little bit, I shaved a year off my age. Again, the only change in the pictures above is that my eyes are a fraction bigger. I did not do anything to my temples or lower eyelids.
As a modern dermatologist where aesthetic treatments are a significant part of my practice, I found this exercise very interesting. Of course, it is not possible to draw definitive conclusions as to exactly how, how-old.net works since these are only minor tweaks to one photograph, but the findings are suggestive. Hopefully, we will learn more and, maybe even, be able to use the results of our experiments to help our efforts to rejuvenate in real life.
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