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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Ageing - it's the latest craze
By Louise Andrew
BBC Scotland news website

See the results after this image was "age-morphed"

"Freaky" was one description, "something out of Dr Who" was another.

Perhaps I should have expected it because in a matter of minutes I had just aged about 30 years.

Well not me exactly, but a photograph of myself.

Age-morphing computer software had revealed what I might look like when I'm 65.

The "morphing machine" works by looking at the age and position of the features and then using images in its database to superimpose faces of different ages on top of each other.

Signs of age, such as wrinkles, age spots and puffy eyes, will be added if that's what is thrown up.

I don't think the results look too bad, although my skin looks like its been the victim of a particularly vicious chemical peel.

But don't rely on me to tell you what it's like to age 30 years in as many minutes - why not try if for yourself.

The software has just been made available by the Scottish Executive on www.infoscotland.com/experience.

Ageing population

You will need to load a photo of yourself onto a computer and you will also be asked to provide an email address and your year of birth.

After some prompts - to help determine the sizes and proportions of your facial features - the photo goes into a database to be morphed.

In a matter of minutes the result will arrive back in your email inbox.

But this is not just about having some harmless fun, there is a serious side too - by the time many of us actually turn 65, there will be far fewer young people in the workforce to support us.

Scottish Executive's consultation website
The age-morphing software is on the executive's consultation website

The executive has launched a public consultation on the issue. And it's a rallying cry to all of us, not just the current generation of pensioners.

In 2004, about 16% of the population was over 65. By 2031, more than a quarter of us will be over 65.

How will Scotland cope with so many older people? Will our services, buildings, transport and society be up for the job?

Can Scotland benefit from this change? And what can government, businesses, communities and individuals do to prepare for it?

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said he hoped the software would encourage people to think about their future and add their views to the executive's consultation.

He said: "Scotland is changing and the population is becoming progressively older.

"As people submit photos to be aged, it's also worth us all thinking about what we want Scotland to look like in the future. We need people to let us know want they think."

Seeing what you could look like by the time you're collecting your pension certainly helps to focus the mind.

However hard I try to see my late gran or my great aunt Maud when I look at the photo, the glassy eyes staring back are definitely me.

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