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Super recognizers

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 14, 2015

Gary Collins, a London police constable, is extraordinarily gifted at recalling people’s faces. He’s a super recognizer.

Friends call Constable Collins Rain Man or Yoda or simply The Oracle. But to Scotland Yard, London’s metropolitan police force, he is known as a “super recognizer.” He has a special gift of facial recall powers that enables him to match even low-quality and partial imagery to a face he has seen before, on the street or in a database and possibly years earlier. The last time he had come face to face with Mr. Prince was during a fleeting encounter in 2005.

Aside from Collins, Scotland Yard now employs more than 150 super recognizers who scan the streets and crowds for known criminals.