How many times have you thought, "I could nail that shady guy who pickpocketed me at the mall--if only I could remember what his face looked like"?
Well, not that often, we hope, but it may make you rest a little easier to know there's a police sketch computer program available that lets users create their own composites. "Faces" is a CD-ROM with close to 4,000 facial features (eyes, eyebrows, chins, hair, etc.) that can be enlarged, reduced and moved vertically or horizontally to create portraits that look almost like photographs.
"Faces" allows the authorities, crime victims and the public at large to exchange graphic data easily. All a "Faces" user has to do to transmit a composite to another "Faces" user is send the picture's InterCode by phone, e-mail or fax.
InterQuest Inc., the Montreal-based company that produces "Faces," donated 50,000 of the CD-ROMs to law enforcement organizations in the U.S. and Canada last year. The program has been so successful in police work (it was used in the arrest of Nicholas Basil Stoumbelis, charged last October with the rape of an 11-year-old girl in south Florida) that TV's "America's Most Wanted" features it regularly.
But the software is billed as more than just a crime-fighting tool. It also can be used to develop memory and observation skills. Children and adults can invent new faces, or re-create the faces of celebrities and family. (There is something a little disturbing about seeing daddy's face as a police composite, however.)
For information about "Faces" ($49.95), log on to http://www.facesinterquest.com or call (888) 824-FACES.