Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Forensic Science & Clinical Toxicology
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Computer Programs Improve Fingerprint Grading

Published: Friday, July 05, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Three computer programs used together can give fingerprint grading unprecedented consistency and objectivity, according to Penn State researchers.

"People leave behind all kinds of fingerprints, and the job of a forensic examiner is then to look at a fingerprint and identify a person who could have left it," said Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Charles Godfrey Binder Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics, Penn State. "Various scenarios can be envisioned where a fingerprint can be seriously altered. Once it is altered, it can conceivably lead the examiner to a false conclusion."

Fingerprints usually undergo environmental weathering and smudging. The condition of a fingerprint affects how reliable a match can be between a collected print and prints on record. Knowing a fingerprint's dependability can minimize the chance of a wrongful or delayed conviction.

Lakhtakia's team created a process using three inexpensive computer programs to grade a fingerprint for the availability of ridge detail for subsequent identification. Computerized grading ensures standardized evaluation to a degree finer than any human can accomplish.  They report their results in the current issue of Forensic Science International.

"The quality of a fingerprint can be graded finer than on a zero, one, two, three scale," Lakhtakia explained. "Two point three per cent is worse than fifteen per cent, but both could be graded as a zero by the naked eye. Humans can't grade finer than the zero to three scale. But computers can."

The three separate computer programs include the FBI's Universal Latent Workstation -- usually free to qualified agencies, the open-source image editor GIMP and a simple custom program written in Mathematica to count pixels.

Investigators photograph the fingerprint—developed for visualization or not—and run the picture through the Universal Latent Workstation. This program creates a simplified map of the fingerprint by designating colors to four area types. The background area is black, areas with definite ridges are white, and debatable regions are yellow and blue.

The GIMP editor converts the map file into an image file with red-green-blue color values. The RGB values are stored as number clusters that a computer program can easily translate into binary sequences useable in a mathematical equation.

A pixel-counting algorithm in Mathematica calculates the total percentage of white pixels from imported RGB pictures, essentially creating a grading scale ranging from 0 to 100. A high-quality fingerprint would have a high number of white pixels, while a potentially unreliable print would mostly appear in yellow and blue.

The ease and relative speed of this grading system may help to standardize fingerprint quality assessment in an inexpensive, efficient manner.

"The next step of this kind of research is, is there false detail created by development techniques?" Lakhtakia said. "That can happen. Looking at the thin-film technique that my group has developed, I don't imagine so, but we would obviously have to prove it."

Other researchers from Penn State on this project include Drew Pulsifer, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics; Sarah Muhlberger, fingerprint technician; Stephanie Williams, recent graduate in forensic science; and Robert Shaler, retired professor of forensic science.

The U.S. Department of Justice funded this research.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Single Molecule Detection of Contaminants, Explosives or Diseases
A technique that combines the ultrasensitivity of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) with a slippery surface invented by Penn State researchers will make it feasible to detect single molecules of a number of chemical and biological species from gaseous, liquid or solid samples.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
3-D Model Links Facial Features and DNA
An international team of researchers is beginning to connect genetics with facial features, degrees of femininity and racial admixture.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Scientific News
Identifying People Using Human Hair Proteins
In an important breakthrough for the forensic science community, researchers have developed the first-ever biological identification method that exploits the information encoded in proteins of human hair.
Origin of Cultured Cells: Not Where You Think
Study shows cultured cells from decades-old cell line does not originate from the patient it was claimed to derive from.
Bringing NGS to the Crime Lab
New technology being validated in BCI lab for use in Ohio missing persons cases.
How Cloud Connectivity Can Combat the Reproducibility Crisis
This infographic explains the reproducibility crisis, and how cloud connectivity can help overcome this problem.
Detecting Drug Use in Hair
Scientists at Wageningen UR have developed a faster and more accurate method for the detection of drug use using hair.
Eliminating Doubt in Criminal Investigations
New ASU certificate to help curb error, misunderstanding in the quest for justice.
Determination of 13 Organic Toxicants in Human Blood
Researchers have utilised liquid-liquid extraction coupling HPLC-MS/MS to identify and quantify organic toxicants in human blood.
A Novel Cell Culture Model For Forensic Biology Experiments
Researchers have developed a new cell culture model which provides an efficient research tool in forensic biology.
Rhino DNA Bank Aids Anti-Poaching Fight
At the University of Pretoria's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) at Onderstepoort, Dr Cindy Harper and her team have developed a ground-breaking technique to collect and catalogue DNA from rhinos and rhino horns.
Gender Determination in Forensic Investigations
This study investigated the effectiveness of lip print analysis as a tool in gender determination.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!