Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

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
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 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,800+ 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 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

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
Professor Leads Project to Breed Beans Resistant to Climate Stresses
With support from a $5 million grant, an international team will establish the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate-Resilient Beans.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Researcher Investigates the Role of Specialized Bone Marrow Cells
NIH Bridge Program scholar aims to slow bone metastasis.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Novel Nanoparticles Developed to Deliver Healing Drugs Directly to Bone Cracks
A novel method for delivering healing drugs to newly formed microcracks in bones may help patients with osteoporosis and other medical conditions.
Monday, September 09, 2013
Comprehensive Parkinson's Biomarker Test Has Prognostic and Diagnostic Value
First biomarker results reported from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI).
Monday, September 02, 2013
Endangered Lemurs' Complete Genomes are Sequenced and Analyzed for Conservation
For the first time, the complete genomes of three separate populations of aye-ayes have been sequenced and analyzed in an effort to help guide conservation efforts.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Search begins for dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences
Penn State initiates U.S. wide search for candidates.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Students Develop Low-cost Water Filtering System for African Nation
In an effort to bring fresh water to rural Kenyans students of Penn State's Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program develop a ceramic water filtration system.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Researchers Identify Gene Required for Nerve Regeneration
A gene that is associated with regeneration of injured nerve cells has been identified by scientists at Penn State and Duke University.
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Important Gene-Regulation Proteins Pinpointed by New Method
A novel technique has been developed and demonstrated at Penn State to map the proteins that read and regulate chromosomes.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Scientific News
Genetic Defences of Bacteria Don’t Aid Antibiotic Resistance
Genetic responses to the stresses caused by antibiotics don’t help bacteria to evolve a resistance to the medications, according to a new study by Oxford University researchers.
Detecting HIV Diagnostic Antibodies with DNA Nanomachines
New research may revolutionize the slow, cumbersome and expensive process of detecting the antibodies that can help with the diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV.
Snapshot Turns T Cell Immunology on its Head
New research may have implications for 1 diabetes sufferers.
Tolerant Immune System Increases Cancer Risk
Researchers have found that individuals with high immunoCRIT ratios may have an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
Developing a Gel that Mimics Human Breast for Cancer Research
Scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham have been funded to develop a gel that will match many of the biological structures of human breast tissue, to advance cancer research and reduce animal testing.
Cell's Waste Disposal System Regulates Body Clock Proteins
New way to identify interacting proteins could identify potential drug targets.
New Approach to Treating Heparin-induced Blood Disorder
A potential treatment for a serious clotting condition that can strike patients who receive heparin to treat or prevent blood clots may lie within reach by elucidating the structure of the protein complex at its root.
Horse Illness Shares Signs of Human Disease
Horses with a rare nerve condition have similar signs of disease as people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, a study has found.
How a Molecular Motor Untangles Protein
Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and prion diseases, all involve “tangled” proteins.
Compound Doubles Up On Cancer Detection
Researchers have found that tagging a pair of markers found almost exclusively on a common brain cancer yields a cancer signal that is both more obvious and more specific to cancer.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos