University of Adelaide forensic anatomy researchers are making advances in the use of “body recognition” for criminal and missing persons cases, to help with identification when a face is not clearly shown.

PhD student Teghan Lucas is studying a range of human anatomical features and body measurements that can help to identify a person, such as from closed circuit television (CCTV) security videos, no matter what clothing the person may be wearing.

“There’s been a lot of work conducted over the years on facial recognition. This makes sense – humans have evolved to recognise faces, which is part of our survival mechanism, and the face contains some very distinctive features. But what happens if the face is not shown, or if there is an unusual facial resemblance between two people? What happens if identification of the face alone just isn’t enough?” Ms Lucas says.

“Measurements of the body, as well as the face, were used for forensic identification as early as the 19th century. It was believed that no two individuals had the exact same measurements. However, this was overtaken by fingerprint analysis because it was considered more reliable in court proceedings, and the probability of finding matching individuals could be easily calculated.”

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