Fox News: How age-progression software helps find missing kids

If you happen to be driving in St. Joseph, Minn., this weekend, look up at the billboards to see a picture of Jacob Wetterling. An image created last year shows how Wetterling, who went missing 25 years ago at age 11, might look today at age 36.

The new billboards are the latest attempt by law enforcement officials to engage the public in finding Wetterling, who was abducted by a masked gunman on a country road in 1989. His first age-progressed image was released in 1998, then in 2007, and again in 2013.

Age-progression images are a critical tool in helping identify missing children after an abduction or missing person’s report, says Steve Loftin, the Supervisor for National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the Forensic Imaging Unit, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

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AprilAge, a company based in Toronto, normally creates age progressions to show the effects of obesity or smoking. However, agencies also use the software in forensic work at a crime-scene and could be used to help find missing children. The main benefit to using the tool is that the images are based on actual people at specific ages from 7 to 70 and do not use an artist render or morphed image.

“Our software uses our proprietary database of thousands of real people’s 3D head scans to apply the aging characteristics to a photo,” says Alexandra Brown, the CEO of AprilAge.

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