The Facial Conundrum – Phase 1

How it all Started?

Staying in 8 different cities, including 3 abroad, I have come across various facets of people. I was fortunate enough to interact with foreigners from different countries. I also observed various cultures across India, right from the North to the South.

This experience truly broadened my horizons when it came to understanding the diversification of the human race. It generated more and more queries in me –

Why do people prefer a subset of facial features over others? If they do, then is the definition of beauty even accurate?

The likes of such questions kept meandering like small rivers across the landscape of my mind.

The Push to Shove

The push came when I came across a face. This particular face forced me to aggressively find out the answers.

A couple of weeks passed, as I grappled with the questions in my mind. I tried to clear the chaos out and filter it down to a few questions.

It led me to wonder –

  1. Why are people attracted to this face?
  2. If they are attracted to this face, then how do I prove that this is indeed an attraction?
  3. Was this just a layer of physical allure under the pretense of actual magnetism?
  4. Would there be a way to quantify and negate this reaction?
  5. If it’s based only on aesthetic beauty, then can I draw conclusions to prove a relation! The relation would be between
  • the beauty people saw using their eyes,
  • the attraction that processed through their mind and,
  • the emotions they felt through their heart

6. Could a formula/algorithm be generated for it? Subsequently, can it be converted into a product based on images and the algorithms?

As I explored further, the question kept growing like a climber plant against my mind.

The final motivation to get an answer came from a most unexpected source, that is, the subject itself!

And this gave birth to this new case study, The Facial Conundrum.

The Path

A couple of occurrences guided me to the approach I undertook –

  1. A newly minted friend of mine mentioned Biotechnology as her interest. This mention threw me back by almost 9 years to my school life in class 12th. In the quest to understand the IT ecosystem and explore start ups, I had completely forgotten this aspect of mine! I remembered that I felt alive and excited when I studied that particular subject. That was because of the growing interest I had in it. I was also a school topper in it. I was the only one to have built the virtual simulation of a hardware equipment called the fermentor. I have never been a geek but my interest towards the subject helped me in making big achievements.
  2. I had recently been involved in a conversation with a senior product manager. Over coffee, we ended up discussing over the various elements of a particular problem he had come across. He challenged me to use geometry to solve that generic problem. Now, I have never really been a fan of Maths. But, that discussion opened my mind to the beauty of maths and geometry.

In basic terminology, Biotechnology is an amalgamation of Maths and Biology. When my friend mentioned this subject, I had a Eureka moment as I realized as to why did I not think about it before! Hence, I decided to return to this school interest of mine and in turn go through the basics of geometry.

The Theory

I began researching Biotechnology. It led me to theoretical biology. Which in turn led me to bio statistics. And this led me to an equation called the golden ratio. It’s been stated that the likes of Leonardo da Vinci used this ratio to build masterpieces.

It has been a subject of huge contention between scientists. But, I found the concept interesting enough to at least start my exploration.

The Subject

As a product guy, a part of my job is to simplify decision making with few resources at hand. That entails utilizing data as well. But, the data could be limited or there could be no data at all!

I faced the classic case of utilizing my instinct and analytical brain with limited access to the subject.

The Control

I will be using my own face as the control for this study.

Before a techie, I deem myself as an artist. In order to visualize and build things, an artist can get inspired from the simplest of things in mother nature. Or can take motivation from random strangers in the world.

The famous Indian painter, Mr. M. F. Hussain, was supposed to have considered the successful actress Madhuri Dixit, as his muse.

In similar fashion, I had my own muse for this particular case study. The face that made me ask such questions, belonged to my above mentioned friend.

The Control
The Control

The Picture

The control’s picture had to match the subject’s available picture. The match was based on the following criterion –

  1. Zoom level
  2. Tilt angle of head
  3. Similarity in expression

The Implementation

 Step 1 – Measure the length and width of the face. Then, divide the length by the width.

Subject – Length =  3 CM, Width = 1.5 CM, Ratio = 1.5

Control – Length =  22 CM, Width = 12.5 CM, Ratio = 1.76

Factor – Scaling factor of 8 has been considered between the picture and the actual face.

 

Step 2 – Measure three segments of the face –

Subject

From the forehead hairline to a spot between the eyes = 1 CM

From between the eyes to the bottom of the nose = 1 CM

From the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin = 1 CM

Control

From the forehead hairline to a spot between the eyes = 6.5 CM

From between the eyes to the bottom of the nose = 3.5 CM

From the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin = 7.3 CM

Factor – Scaling factor of approx 7 has been considered between the picture and the actual face.

 

Step 3 –  Measure symmetry and proportion

Subject

Length of an ear is equal to the length the nose = 0.8 CM each

Width of an eye is equal to the distance between the eyes = 0.5 CM each

Control

Length of an ear is equal to the length the nose = 5 CM each

Width of an eye is equal to the distance between the eyes = 5 CM each

Factor – Scaling factor of 5 has been considered between the picture and the actual face.

 Conclusion

This study requires subsequent growth phases. It requires

  • heavy additional work on averaging the above calculations.
  • a deep dive into the concept behind golden ratio formula and it’s implementation.

The Product

Once greater clarity is achieved on the concept, a product roadmap can be mapped out to build a well functioning app out of this.

The Questions

None the less,  I can still try to answer a couple of the above mentioned questions.

1. Why are people attracted to this face?

2. If they are attracted to it, then how do I prove that this is indeed an attraction?

The subject’s face does seem to match the golden ratio closely. But, this is just a bare basic calculation.

In terms of symmetry, the subject’s face has almost equivalent numbers. It satisfies this equation as well.

Hence, the aforementioned attraction.

3. Was this just a layer of physical allure under the pretense of actual magnetism?

Probably yes. But new metrics will be required to differentiate between infatuation and affection.

*Note

1. The identity of the subject has been withheld in order to protect their privacy.

2. The above study in no way discriminates between people on the basis of looks or aesthetics. It is the author’s private opinion. Any reactions to this article are subjective based on the readers mindset and experiences.

3. The author reserves the right to publish his opinions as the owner of this domain and platform.

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