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Extraordinary People: The professor who makes the young old

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Have you ever been searching for someone but only have a picture of them that’s 20 years old? His facial recognition software could help.

Or maybe you just want a hands free flying camera? He’s got software for that, too.

His name is Karl Ricanek, and he’s our extraordinary person of the week!

This palm guided drone is impressive and the hand-y work of Prof. Ricanek’s students at UNCW. But if you think that’s cool, check out his 3-D creations. It’s also their fancy face work. Yes, this professor deserves some recognition.

“2001 came, we had 9/11,” Ricanek said, “and face recognition became extremely important.”

Just so happened that Prof. Ricanek had a little experience in that field.

“The very first day I stepped foot on this campus I started talking to other researchers about my dissertation and facial recognition and thinking, ‘I don’t think anyone has been working in this area,'” Ricanek said.

That was more than ten years ago. Since then, Ricanek has secured more than 20 contracts from the intelligence community. You know: the Department of Defense; the FBI; the NSA.

“We actually produce products that may be used, I believe they are used, but we never know, by the intelligence organizations,” Ricanek said.

The professor’s work could even help identify a missing person.

“We may have a picture that was from 20 years ago, so this is the only pic we have,” Ricanek said. “We want to know what she would look like today, so here is what she would look like at an older age.”

His programs out perform the big names. So it may be a secret as to what his work is used for by government agencies, but it is no secret that his accomplishments at UNCW are, hands down, extraordinary.

If you know an extraordinary person in the Cape Fear area, email Daniel Seamans at dseamans@wwaytv3.com.

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