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Computer Programs Improve Fingerprint Grading


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Details of a fingerprint.

A new process that combines three inexpensive programs can grade fingerprints for their clarity of detail.

Credit: CPOA/Flickr

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have developed a process using three inexpensive computer programs to grade a fingerprint for the availability of ridge detail for subsequent identification. The researchers say computerized grading ensures standardized evaluation to a degree finer than any human can accomplish.

The three programs are the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Universal Latent Workstation, the open source image editor GIMP, and a custom program written in Mathematica to count pixels. The Universal Latent Workstation creates a simplified map of the fingerprint by designating colors to four area types. The GIMP editor converts the map file into an image file with red-green-blue color values. Finally, the pixel-counting algorithm calculates the total percentage of white pixels from imported RGB pictures, creating a grading scale ranging from 0 to 100.

The researchers say the ease and relative speed of their grading system could help to standardize fingerprint quality assessment in an inexpensive, efficient manner.

"The next step of this kind of research is, is there false detail created by development techniques?" says PSU professor Akhlesh Lakhtakia. "Looking at the thin-film technique that my group has developed, I don't imagine so, but we would obviously have to prove it."

From Penn State Live
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