New 3D missing persons posters could lead to more engagement

When the Amber Alert came out in the 1990s, photos of missing children on the back of milk cartons became a thing of the past. Yet we see posters of missing persons in telephone surveys, grocery store windows and community bulletin boards. And what’s more, they continue to be easily ignored. It may be time for another overhaul.

Missing People, a London-based charity, has created digital billboards showing moving 3D portraits rather than static photos. Blinking eyes, bowed head, it works. Do you remember that double take you did when you discovered iPhone “Live Photos”? It’s a bit similar.

Not only that, but each hot pink “poster” has a clear, easily scannable QR code that can be used to publicize a missing person on social media. With its immediacy and global reach, social media is playing an increasingly important role in the recovery of missing persons. Having an easy way to share on social media platforms already seems like an obvious improvement.

This combination of technology and eye-catching visuals is part of an initiative to get people more involved in the search for missing persons. After all, our fast-paced modern world makes it easy to overlook what’s popping up on our periphery. How many times have you walked past a traditional missing persons poster before forgetting about it the minute you hit TikTok?

You will also notice that the words “help find” replace the word “missing”. This too is by design.


Anita Braga, behavioral science consultant at Influence at Work, who led the research for the project, explained that this subtle modification can create a markedly different outcome. “A lot of times people want to take action, but they feel like they can’t afford it, they feel a bit overwhelmed by the situation,” she said, according to The Independent. “Making a clear call to action is a way to make them feel empowered and also to feel empathy for the person they are looking for.”

An example of a traditional missing persons poster.

www.nps.gov

It makes sense. Usually, a poster with the word “MISSING” in big bold print gives… less hope. In addition to fear, sadness and alarm, there is usually this finality in the situation. That person is missing, if not worse. That’s it. Language is such a powerful tool. It is quite amazing that when used intentionally, language can turn passive sympathy into compassionate action.

These interactive posters are still too recent to really test their effectiveness, but they are creating a buzz. The Independent also reported Steve Martin, managing director of Influence at Work, saying: “Even if a few dozen more people see this image, they connect with it, they feel some empathy towards it, that could make a difference. and it could help a family that has seen their whole life not just disrupted but destroyed because they don’t know where their loved one is.

This project looks like innovation at its finest. Technology often disconnects us from each other, but it also has the potential to bring us closer together. Who knows what impact this overhaul will have, but the very idea of ​​minds gathering to use AI in this way seems like a positive step forward.

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