Image credit – Paul Kruszka, et al.


When you think of facial recognition technology, you might think of it as being used for security purposes, or for tracking purposes where it can help identify criminals in videos and photos and what not. However it seems that recently a group of scientists have found another use for facial recognition, and that is to detect a rare genetic disease.

The team from the National Human Genome Research Institute have developed a facial recognition system that can apparently diagnose a rare genetic condition known as “DiGeorge syndrome” that typically manifests itself in non-Caucasian populations. This disease can lead to a number of medical complications and cognitive conditions that are apparently hard to diagnose. It also manifests itself with a characteristic facial appearance, but given that it varies across different ethnicities, this is where the facial recognition system comes in.

According to NHGRI medical geneticist Paul Kruszka, “Human malformation syndromes appear different in different parts of the world. Even experienced clinicians have difficulty diagnosing genetic syndromes in non-European populations.” The team then went on to study the various photographs submitted by 101 participants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and put that into the system which so far has been successful at detecting the condition 96.6% of the time.

It will probably be awhile before this system is put into use, but the scientists do plan on further developing it until it can be of use to healthcare providers around the world.

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