tattoo-id-offbeatinkSounds scary, and I suppose if you have something to hide, it would be. A Michigan State University researcher has created a computerized automatic image retrieval system whereby law enforcement agencies can match scars, marks and tattoos to identify suspects and victims.
Anil Jain, the researcher at MSU who developed the program reckons that “in a world filled with homeland security concerns, identity fraud and natural disasters, the need to establish the identity of an individual based on something other than a driver’s license or demographic and personal data is vital” and he should know. He is, after all, MSU University
Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. “Identity is usually established using passports, licences or personal identification numbers, but these are easily forged, lost or stolen.”

“There is a need to recognize people based on physical characteristics like fingerprints, iris or face. This is the field of biometric recognition where we have been working for the past 15 years.”

Biometrics is the automatic identification of an individual based on his anatomical or behavioral characteristics. Jain takes this to the next level and adds scar, mark and tattoo recognition capability to the ID tools already used by law enforcement, government and military agencies.

Called “Tattoo-ID,” the system Jain has developed is a software program. It incorporates an annotated database containing images of body markings provided by law enforcement agencies in the USA. Each image is linked to the criminal history records of all suspects and convicts who have a body marking like a tattoo. The idea is that police officers provide a tattoo image query and the system automatically retrieves the most similar tattoo images from the database along with the linked criminal history records.

“The number of people getting tattoos is rapidly growing. About 20 percent of the population has at least one tattoo, and this percentage is even higher among delinquents,” Jain said. “In fact, many gangs have a unique membership tattoo. So, with the rising popularity of tattoos, it makes sense to put these markers to good use.”

Charming, I’m sure…