How to Take a Selfie That Will Help Science #CitizenScience #science #selfies @Facetopo


Usually I’m not a selfie fan, preferring to photograph the world around me. However, a new app I discovered on Patch Boston called FaceTopo has suddenly made it something worthwhile. The app, available for IOS and Android, charts points on the face creating a 3D map to show similarities and differences among people. It was created by Alberta Chu and husband Murray Robinson to see if a connection can be made to specific diseases. Interestingly it was inspired by the diagnosis of a family member with Smith-Magenis Syndrome, which has distinctive facial features.

Using Facetopo

The app is quite easy to use and people are encouraged to find a steady place to place their device to do the imaging. It’s preferred to do the mapping three times for accuracy, and there is even a final selfie with filters you can apply at the end. The data holds interesting possibilities, according to Chu.

“It’s a big scientific question. All of our faces are blending. The races are blending and we are seeing migration patterns. Now that we have genomics, which is accessible and people can get their genome sequence, the big question is can your face be a proxy for getting your genome sequence?”

Author Heidi Legg points out the original excitement of the Human Genome Project, another citizen science initiative that resulted in an open-source database. There is a lot of similarity with the intention here, and it could be the future “23andMe” of faces. Get ready to find your doppelgänger.

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