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As technology takes on a greater presence in our lives, we adapt and find more ways to use it. Gone are the days of missing children on milk cartons and tacked up inside post offices. Instead, we use Amber Alerts, boost social media posts, and start online campaigns.

In Oregon, Rogelio Lemus and Ethan Orozco, two Hermiston High School juniors, developed an app to distribute missing-person information faster. It's called B.A.N.A.N.A, which stands for Basic App to Notify Authorities of Non-Authorized Abductions.

The app uses facial recognition technology to help find missing people. B.A.N.A.N.A users can upload a photo of a missing to compare against a national database.

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"If an uploaded photo meets the threshold, the app displays Apollo match and a number is provided for leads on missing persons," Orozco said in the duo's YouTube video.

If a photo is uploaded and doesn't match anyone in the database, the app doesn't generate any search results.

"Rogelio and Ethan wanted to create an app to help people, not just create a game to entertain," Robert Theriault, the students' computer science teacher said in press release. "I was very impressed when I learned they had chosen a project that could be used as a tool in helping people find friends who have been missing. This project showcases Rogelio and Ethan's technical abilities and also demonstrates their compassion for the community."

Lemus and Orozco entered and won the 2018 Congressional App Challenge for Oregon's District 2 for B.A.N.A.N.A. The pair has been invited to attend the House of Code in Washington, DC, this coming spring.

Theriault told that B.A.N.A.N.A. is in beta testing.

"Two big issues need to be resolved before it can come out of beta," Theriault said. "One, it is not connected to a database, rather they built the "database" themselves by downloading the photos from an Oregon missing people site. Two, the actual facial recognition API they are using (and don't control) is not really that accurate yet."

Theriault said both issues would require third-party intervention. The latter depends on finding a developer.

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  1. Rogelio Lemus and Ethan Orozco, two Hermiston High School juniors in Oregon, developed the B.A.N.A.N.A app, Basic App to Notify Authorities of Non-Authorized Abductions.
  2. The app uses facial recognition to match potentially missing people to a national database.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.