America’s National Institute of Standards and Technology has concluded an ambitious project to mine the private sector for tattoo recognition technology. Earlier this week, NIST assessed the results from six participating organizations.
There weren’t any huge breakthroughs, but there were signs of promise. Some of the more straightforward tattoo identification systems attained accuracy rates greater than 90 percent, while more ambitious systems aiming to match real tattoos to those of police sketches proved less reliable, as one might expect. But the lead organizer of the event suggested that most of the technologies assessed in the “Tatt-C” challenge could at the very least prove useful in a supplementary fashion, especially in cold cases where all other identification avenues have been explored.
While the FBI’s Next Generation Identification system – a huge national database of identity information for law enforcement authorities – already uses text-based tattoo descriptions, biometric identification systems could provide a valuable upgrade, especially in combination with the NGI’s fingerprint and facial biometric data. And while law enforcement agencies will find the most benefit from tattoo recognition systems, there are other valuable potential applications too, such as using them to identify victims of natural disasters.
Other independent researchers continue to develop related technology, such as an MIT team’s wrinkle-predicting algorithm, and Michigan State University researchers’ sketch-to-face matching software; so while NIST’s Tatt-C initiative is a wrap for now, the organization may benefit from further outreach to academia and other private sector organizations in the future.
Source: The Washington Post
June 11, 2015 – by Alex Perala