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Researchers crack mobile fingerprint checking

Tash Shifrin

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have developed a way to send crime scene fingerprints wirelessly for examination in less than a minute.

The system has been approved by the National Fingerprint Board and will be used by all 43 police forces across the country, in a move that is expected to dramatically speed up the identification of crime suspects.

The technique involves compressing the fingerprint data collected, then using a small scanner and a wireless enabled laptop to send them to police fingerprint bureaus over mobile phone networks.

The method reduces the time taken to lift and despatch the prints for examination from up to 20 minutes to between 30 and 60 seconds and allows instant transmission. Currently, police investigators must often wait for the end of the day for a batch of prints to be sent off, delaying the identification of suspects for hours or days.

The university said research had gone into ensuring that there would be no deterioration in identification due to the use of “lossy” image compression. They claimed, “In fact, the reverse is true. The correct form and degree of compression improves identification for poor quality lifts.”

 

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