Facial recognition software can have many useful applications, most notably for online identification purposes and secure access to a location or an account. A new app is now taking this technology even further, using it to help find and identify missing persons.

The facial recognition app was developed in China, with the purpose of helping find missing children, but the software could be successfully used in any other country.

Facial Recognition App to Find Missing Children

The app was developed jointly by advertising agency JWT China and Baby Back Home, a missing children listings website. The facial recognition software is designed to help identify any missing or kidnapped children and is based on the idea that anybody using the app can become a search volunteer.

Approximately 20,000 children disappear in the world’s most populated country every year. Most of these children end up begging in the street or are sold into slavery or prostitution. And in a country the size of China, it is almost impossible to actually find any of these missing kids.

And this is where the facial recognition app comes in. Users of the app can take photos of children they think might be lost with their phone. The application will analyze the photo using facial recognition software and will run the image against a missing persons database, looking for a match. In case a match is found, the missing child’s family is notified.

JWT China and Baby Back Home hope that anybody using a camera phone will download and use this application. In the first week after the launch, the app has been downloaded 20,000 times. What’s even more impressive is that in the same week, two children were found and reunited with their families with the help of the facial recognition application.

Another part of the JWT-Baby Back Home campaign consists of spreading awareness of the plight of so many families with missing children. To achieve this, the organizations set up several interactive sculptures in major cities across China. The plaster sculptures were installed in areas that are frequently visited by families. When somebody takes a photo of a sculpture they can view the story of a missing child or their parents’ emotional pleas for help.

[Image via Mashable]