Ever used a PhotoFIT app? Here’s my lame attempt at Elvis Costello. Sorry Elv. Apart from the hair, what else did I get wrong?

A PhotoFIT picture of Elvis Costello

I constructed it using a free, fairly easy-to-use Web-based app from the Open University.

Warning: you may be used to seeing PhotoFIT techniques used by cops in crime fiction and crime drama. At one time it was indeed widely used for helping a witness to build up an image of a suspect, using bits of photographs (rather than drawings) of individual features to construct the face.

The main aim of the Open University tool is to give an idea of the serious limitations of this approach – even when you think you already have a good idea of what the person looks like.

To see what I mean, try using the app yourself to build up the face of someone you already know – a friend, relative or celeb.

It’s very hard, see? For lots of reasons I can go into if you push me.

The successor to PhotoFIT and to EFIT (Electronic Facial Identification Technique) is called the EFIT-V. It’s a major step forwards and far easier for witnesses to use – and probably far more effective. You will be hearing a lot more about it soon. In crime fiction I mean, not when they take you in for questioning.