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FaceApp-Style Technology Helps To Find Missing Child After 18 Years

FaceApp-Style Technology Helps To Find Missing Child After 18 Years

This is the moment a young man who was kidnapped as a toddler is reunited with his parents almost two decades later - after cops used FaceApp-style AI technology to show what he might look like now and found him.

Footage shows a shy Yu Weifeng, 21, walking into a press conference where his parents see him for the first time in 18 years and burst into tears as they hug him on 18 July.

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Developed by Chinese tech and internet services giant Tencent, 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.

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 with existing facial recognition technology, helping them identify the subject they deemed to be the highest match.

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

Yu Weifeng before his disappearance in 2001. Credit: AsiaWire
Yu Weifeng before his disappearance in 2001. Credit: AsiaWire
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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 6 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."

Mr and Ms Yu offered £11,600 for information about their missing son. Credit: AsiaWire
Mr and Ms Yu offered £11,600 for information about their missing son. Credit: AsiaWire

Weifeng's father Yu Xingquan and mother Rong Muhuan searched numerous cities but found no trace of their boy.

At the press conference, they presented a number of missing persons posters they had printed, which showed having offered rewards of up to 100,000 RMB (£11,600) for information.

The emotional dad said at the reunion: "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." What a LAD.

The family reuniting. Credit: AsiaWire
The family reuniting. Credit: AsiaWire

Futian police said they were still investigating details of the 2001 kidnapping, with no arrests announced so far.

Weifeng himself did not reveal whether he had asked his adoptive parents for the truth about his past.

It is also unclear whether Tencent planned to make the AI technology available to police across China.

Featured Image Credit: AsiaWire

Topics: News, world news, China

Rebecca Shepherd

I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible. I graduated with a First Class BA in Journalism before going on to cover criminal court cases, medical tribunals and breaking news for the national media - which inevitably and eventually became as glum as it sounds. Can often be found rocking a bag for life - which I made a 'thing' way before Rihanna. You can contact me at [email protected]

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