NIST Wants You To Participate in Tatt-C

Law Enforcement Biometrics

Tattoo recognition will be a great boon in the realm of law enforcement.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the US government, is inviting organizations to help advance tattoo recognition technology as part of an initiative it’s calling Tattoo Recognition Technology – Challenge, or Tatt-C. This will be of particular interest to organizations involved in biometrics, as the kind of pattern-recognition technology involved in that field will likely have direct application to tattoo imaging.

While this exercise may at first be perplexing to some, it could prove to be very useful in the realm of law enforcement and justice. Tattoo identification often plays a role in law enforcement investigations, and unfortunately the resources available for this purpose are currently somewhat limited; the standard followed by law enforcement agencies essentially relies on a labelling system to catalogue tattoos. And of course, tattoo identification often fails due to factors including the distortion and fading that tattoos endure over time, obfuscation due to clothing, poor lighting – the list goes on. NIST researchers want to develop technology that can account for these factors while consistently maintaining an imaging and identification process.

Using images provided by law enforcement agencies, NIST has developed an initial dataset for participating organizations to get the ball rolling. Any market or academic groups that have caught Tatt-C fever are encouraged to send NIST a request for the dataset using this form and to email it to

October 6, 2014 – by Alex Perala