Face lab psychologists develop average face of Doctor Who

December 24, 2013 by Kelly Potts
Psychologists at the University of Aberdeen Face Lab have revealed what they claim to be the ‘real face’ of the iconic TV hero.

Millions of Dr Who fans are set to be gripped as the latest incarnation of the famous Time Lord is unveiled on Christmas Day.

But now psychologists at the University of Aberdeen Face Lab have revealed what they claim to be the 'real face' of the iconic TV hero.

Cutting-edge 'face averaging' technology, developed at the institution as part of research into face recognition, was employed to create the average face of Doctor Who.

Images of the 13 actors who have filled the time- travelling hero's shoes – from the inaugural Doctor, William Hartnell, to Peter Capaldi who will step into the role in the highly-anticipated Christmas episode - were used to develop the image.

The scientists behind the project, that highlights the importance of 'face averaging' in helping us recognise and recall a person, say the image provides a remarkable insight into the true identity of the mysterious character.

David Robertson from the University of Aberdeen's Face Lab, which conducts research into the cognitive processes involved in the perception and recognition of , said: "It's interesting that the face we have developed is not dominated by the features of any one of the actors to have played The Doctor.

"Rather it represents a combination of the averaged features of each actor to have taken on the role. Indeed, this face average could guide future casting directors in their search for the ideal actor to play the Time Lord!"

Dr Robin Kramer, also from the University's Face Lab said: "The software we used allows us to identify specific landmarks on each of the images of The Doctor, such as the eyes, nose and mouth – what we call the 'shape' component.

"We then use these landmarks to average all of the images together, also taking into account their colour and texture."

The scientists behind the project say Doctor Who represents the extreme form of their line of research.

Mr Robertson continued: "Of course, Dr Who takes on an entirely new face each time he regenerates. However, in the real world, people keep the same face but it varies considerably across their lifetime, and in photographs. How this relates to our ability to recognise faces is one of the key issues our current research is tackling.

"Evidence has shown that face-averaging could be a powerful tool. Previous studies indicate that when you make an average image of a face - essentially creating a prototype with the irrelevant information removed - this significantly enhances the ability of a computer to correctly identify a face."

"This work has clear implications for the security sector in terms of the development of ."

Related Stories

Identifying people by their bodies when faces are no help

October 3, 2013

Every day we recognize friends, family, and co-workers from afar—even before we can distinctly see a face. New research reveals that when facial features are difficult to make out, we readily use information about someone's ...

Study finds context is key in helping us to recognize a face

November 13, 2013

Why does it take longer to recognise a familiar face when seen in an unfamiliar setting, like seeing a work colleague when on holiday? A new study published today in Nature Communications has found that part of the reason ...

Recommended for you

How language gives your brain a break

August 3, 2015

Here's a quick task: Take a look at the sentences below and decide which is the most effective. (1) "John threw out the old trash sitting in the kitchen." (2) "John threw the old trash sitting in the kitchen out."

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

July 27, 2015

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...

How does color blindness affect color preferences?

July 21, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—Dichromacy is a color vision defect in which one of the three types of cone photoreceptors is missing. The condition is hereditary and sex-linked, mostly affecting males. Although researchers have explored ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.