Undated image released by the Metropolitan Police shows photo of four-year-old missing child Madeleine McCann in an age progression computer generated image at 9-years-old.
Undated image released by the Metropolitan Police shows photo of four-year-old missing child Madeleine McCann in an age progression computer generated image at 9-years-old.

How ‘FaceApp’ could find Maddie

Most of us use facial recognition AI apps for fun, but a FaceApp-style AI could solve one of the most mysterious cases - the disappearance of Maddie McCann.

According to The Sun, Yu Weifeng, 21, was reunited with his family after police used the technology to predict what the missing lad would look like as a grown man before searching a huge database.

The AI used by the police was able to predict with high accuracy what the missing boy might look like now - much like the recently trending FaceApp.

Composite photo of four-year-old missing child Madeleine McCann (L) and an age progression computer generated image of her at 9-years-old. Picture: Supplied
Composite photo of four-year-old missing child Madeleine McCann (L) and an age progression computer generated image of her at 9-years-old. Picture: Supplied

Cold-case investigators in Shenzhen's Futian District, which is in South China's Guangdong Province, were then able to couple the Tencent AI Lab predictions.

MORE: Bombshell clue on new Maddie suspect

The software spent about two months sorting through nearly 100 candidates before singling out Weifeng, who is a student in the provincial capital Guangzhou.

Investigator Zheng Zhenhai said: "When he found him, he refused to believe that he was a kidnapped child, but DNA confirmed that he was a match with his biological parents."

Weifeng, whose adoptive parents had given him the family name Li, went missing on 6th May 2001 while playing near a construction site where his dad worked as a foreman.

Zheng added: "We opened the case the day after the incident and we never gave up.

"Technology was limited at the time.

"We checked surveillance footage, but there were simply too many people coming in and out of the area."

Madeleine McCann, pictured here after playing dress-ups, went missing from the family holiday apartment in Portugal just days before her fourth birthday. Picture: Supplied
Madeleine McCann, pictured here after playing dress-ups, went missing from the family holiday apartment in Portugal just days before her fourth birthday. Picture: Supplied

The technology could now boost the search for Madeleine McCann, who went vanishing from Praia da Luz in 2007 then aged three.

It comes as British tourists were being urged to take posters of Madeleine on their holidays in a bid to find her.

The official Find Madeleine Campaign website says: "Fortunately, there are many cases of abducted children being found and returned to their families - even after long periods of time.

"The vital piece of information that leads to a happy and longed-for reunion is usually thanks to a caring and vigilant member of the general public, often recognising a face from a poster."

After Weifeng was found, investigator Zheng Zhenhai said: "When he found him, he refused to believe that he was a kidnapped child, but DNA confirmed that he was a match with his biological parents.

"We opened the case the day after the incident, and we never gave up.

"Technology was limited at the time. We checked surveillance footage, but there were simply too many people coming in and out of the area."

His emotional dad added: "We're also very grateful to his foster parents for raising him for 18 years. From now on, his foster father will become like a brother to me; my son will have two dads."

Police say they are still probing the kidnapping with no arrests so far.

This story first appeared in The Sun and is republished with permission.



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