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Researchers discover method for lifting fingerprints from fruits

Categories Biometrics News  |  Law Enforcement

Researchers at Abertay University in Scotland have found a way to extract latent fingerprints from fruits and vegetables – a previously daunting task.

According to a report in STV news, this is said to be the first time this has ever been achieved in the UK and could lead to more comprehensive evidence gathering in future investigations.

“Although there are proven techniques to recover fingerprints from many different surfaces these days, there are some surfaces that remain elusive, such as feathers, human skin and animal skin,” Dennis Gentles, a forensic scientist at Abertay University said in the STV report. “Foods such as fruits and vegetables used to be in that category, because their surfaces vary so much – not just in their color and texture, but in their porosity as well.”

In order to lift the prints from the fruit, the scientists used a method previously reserved for taking prints from the sticky side of tape. The process, called powder suspension, successfully produced a legible print on smooth-surfaced foods, like apples and tomatoes. Their findings have been published in the forensic science journal “Science & Justice.”

Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, a team of scientists at Delhi University’s SGTB Khalsa College recently discovered a method for developing fingerprints, including those that have been either naturally or deliberately destroyed.

Their system, called “fluorescent powder compositions for developing latent fingerprints,” works on surfaced immersed in water and effectively recovers fingerprints if the surface is recovered within 36 hours of submersion.

Though these methods of developing fingerprints aren’t specifically biometric technologies, forensic analysis plays an important role in biometrics and the development of identification technology, particularly in the case of law enforcement.

Also reported in BiometricUpdate.com, NIST recently made available a new set of publications which aim to standardize and make fingerprint-matching easier and more reliable for forensic examiners. This is particularly important as currently, forensic examiners must encode the distinctive features of a latent print into an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to find a match on file. If there are different identification systems involved, notation methods and data definitions can differ from one AFIS to the next, a headache for examiners.

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