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Právo: Czech programme to identify even “illegible” fingerprints

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Prague, Nov 8 (CTK) – Czech scientists are developing a special computer programme to identify even “illegible” fingerprints on the basis of their comparison with the world’s largest database of photos of fingerprints with various skin damage, daily Pravo writes yesterday.
Engineers from the biometric laboratory at the Brno-based University of Technology (VUT) and dermatologists have collected a total of 2400 such fingerprints.
Detailed information on whether unknown perpetrators have their hand skin damaged after an injury, by eczema or psoriasis can be a valuable clue in the police search, Pravo says.
“We have a perfect overview of how various skin diseases look like. Our programme will be able to find out what dermal disease the perpetrators suffer from or possibly whether they had a finger injury on the basis of fingerprints if any skin damage appears in them. This piece of information may be extremely valuable for the investigation,” Martin Drahansky, from the VUT, one of the programme creators, told Pravo.
Both the Czech and Swiss police are interested in the research, Pravo writes.
Human fingers are unique and this is why their prints enable to identify crime perpetrators. However, if the skin on the fingers is damaged by a disease or a wound, the papillary lines on the fingers might be illegible and such fingerprints are worthless for the police, Pravo writes.
The new method will change it and turn this disadvantage into an advantage, it adds.
“We will be able to say whether the person who has left the fingerprint on a scene of crime suffers from a particular dermal disease,” Drahansky said.
Moreover, the programme will focus on identifying the perpetrator on the basis of the legible papillary lines on a low-quality fingerprint, he added
Pravo says the new programme might be completed in about a year.
University experts have cooperated with the Czech police on the project.
“We want to expand the database to include over 10,000 fingerprints with various forms of damaged skin on hands, for instance, by venereal diseases. We want to have more fingerprints showing several types of burns caused by fire or chemicals. However, we need help from our dermatologists,” Drahansky said.

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