You go ga-ga over the sight of their precious little face, but what does your baby see when looking back at you? For the first time psychologists and computer scientists are giving parents an idea of what it’s like to view the world through the eyes of a newborn – and soon there’ll be an app for you to see for yourself. Although blurry, most babies can still identify mum and dad’s facial expressions when viewed 30 centimeters away – about the same distance that a mother holds her new baby during feeding or cuddles. Norwegian and Swedish psychologists and computer scientists combined existing knowledge of infants’ vision with technology and mathematics to alter images of adults making various expressions. The images were shown to adult volunteers, who identified facial expressions in three quarters of cases when viewed 30 centimeters away.

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The scores got progressively worse the further away the pictures were viewed. Olov von Hofsten, researcher at Eclipse Optics, says by using mathematics they can deconstruct an image into sinusoidal lines. “Then for each of those functions we can decrease the contrast of that specific frequency, and then when we’ve done that…by using the same inverse mathematical process we can go back to the image and the image will be blurred in the same way as these sinusoidal greetings were blurred,” he says.

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University of Oslo Professor Tim Brennen says 30 centimetres is about the distance that a mother will hold a baby when breastfeeding and “so we think that it’s quite an important distance evolutionarily, quite an important distance for a baby to be picking up mother’s signals”. “We think that it’s not just by chance that the results were much better at 30 centimetres than at 60 and 120,” says Professor Brennen. Mr von Hofsten is developing an app that allows parents to download photos and see how their child views them.

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“We take lots of images today with our cameras and our phones,” he says. “Any of those images can be filtered in the same manner just to see what newborns see.” But mother-of-two Debra Trickett is not convinced, telling Reuters that she won’t be buying the app because she doesn’t have the time to try it out. “Maybe a first-time mum is going to be more intrigued by it,” she says. While their vision is blurry, babies are incredible little beings. Take a look at our post from earlier this month that shows a video of how instinctive newborns really are.


By Natalie Esler from Babyology.com.au via Reuters, images via YouTube