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New Science Catches Criminals With Eye Reflections

Recently unveiled technology that catches criminals via the reflection in witnesses eyes is now being utilized by law enforcement across the US. By enhancing the reflected images from people that may have seen the perpetrator, law enforcement officials can capture a photographic image of the suspect in their eyes.

Is using eye reflection images an accurate means of positively identifying someone?

According to the scientific report, “Identifiable Images of Bystanders Extracted from Corneal Reflections” by Rob Jenkins and Christie Kerr, the accuracy of identifying criminals with eye reflections was “well above chance”.

Their study employed the use of a 39 megapixel camera, while admittedly the image results broken down were of “poor” quality, they found that when a person is familiar or known, the image is still recognizable, as in their visual demonstration of the President Barack Obama’s photo.

Barack Obama

Photo from PLOS One. Figure 1. “A Well known American”

From photographs of volunteers taken 1 mile away they captured approximately 12 million pixels in each volunteer subjects face, excluding hair. The region of their focus was comprised of less than 0.5% of that with just 54,000 pixels to work with. It gets even narrower with just 322 pixels on average making up the reflected image of a “bystander”.

The volunteer group was scientifically divided into two groups of focus, the familiar face and the unfamiliar face. Their research concluded that the participants were correct 90% of the time if the subject was familiar. The unfamiliar rate was less impressive, but at as much as 50% accuracy, “despite the demanding nature of the task”.

The study also noted that for the identification experiments there was no time limit required.

image in cornea reflected

Photo from PLOS ONE, Identifiable images from corneal reflections (Fig.2)

The reliability and quality of DNA testing and positive identification methods have come so far in the last decade. The issue of prosecution and exoneration from DNA evidence while still a debatable issue, is undeniable in value.

An Eye For An Eye

Obviously the chance of obtaining a usable image from the eyes of a bystanders face is less likely to aid in solving a crime than finding fingerprints or DNA evidence, it is yet another scientific weapon against crime for law enforcement.

The technology while simple, requires the advanced enhancement technology we have accessible today, zooming in to such a minute degree with high resolution technology. At the annual CES 2014 event one of the devices unveiled uses eye technology for device and account security access in lieu of passwords. Eyelock, based in New York, invented a handheld USB Iris scanner called Myris, that will scan the users iris part of the eye to positively identify and allow access to devices and files. Their device is able to pinpoint 240 separate points of a person’s iris, and according to the company’s website, everybody’s iris has a unique pattern, like a fingerprint, no two are identical.



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