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A Face to Remember

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The software made many subtle changes to make the original image (left) more memorable (right).

Software developed by MIT researchers can change profile photos to make them more or less memorable.

Credit: Aditya Khosla

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a way to change profile photos to highlight a person's most memorable facial features.

The researchers, led by MIT graduate student Aditya Khosla, say the technology could change everything from Facebook profile pictures to political campaigns and advertising strategies. They found that although people could not guess which pictures would be memorable in an online test, certain images were consistently remembered better than others.

The researchers analyzed 2,222 photos and determined their memorability scores to develop software that can predict the memorability of photos it has never seen before. The program identifies a wide range of tiny details that contribute to memorability but would be impossible to find and define on their own. The program makes a chain of small, random changes to a photo, creating several photos with only slight differences from the original.

The researchers tested the newly changed images on volunteers using an online memory game, and found that 75 percent of the images they altered to be more or less memorable produced the desired reaction in the participants.

The researchers want to reduce the time the algorithm takes and to reduce errors and artifacts introduced in the process.

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