Identifying people by their footprints

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New research suggests that individuals can be identified with a very high degree of accuracy just by looking at the pressure signature of a person's foot on the ground as they walk. Researchers from Shinshu University, University of Manchester, and their colleagues showed that a new computer-enabled image processing technique enabled them to identify almost every person, in their study of 104 individuals, by their "dynamic foot pressure patterns, which indirectly reflect the accelerations of all body parts." I reckon the technique could be useful to catch barefoot bandits. From the Journal of the Royal Society: Interface:
As dynamic pressure data are immediately usable, with little or no pre-processing required, and as they may be collected discreetly during uninterrupted gait using in-floor systems, foot pressure-based identification appears to have wide potential for both the security and health industries.
"Gait recognition: highly unique dynamic plantar pressure patterns among 104 individuals"

Image: According to legend, these footprints in marble held at the Basilica of San Sebastiano fuori le mura are said to have been left by Jesus.

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  1. That’s interesting, but I worry about their “wide implications for the security industries.” If they want to even bring this up in court, they’d better be able to show that they can accurately identify one person out of several million by their gait, not one out of 104. Heck, their “in-floor systems” could easily distinguish all 104 people by something as non-unique as weight alone.

    I just worry about this kind of thing after seeing the travesties of justice by “experts” claiming to be able to uniquely identify people by bite marks and getting innocent people thrown in jail, as you posted here a few days ago.

    1. I just worry about this kind of thing after seeing the travesties of justice by “experts” claiming to be able to uniquely identify people by bite marks and getting innocent people thrown in jail, as you posted here a few days ago.

      There was an article on BBC about how Computers Can Tell If You’re Lying By Analyzing Your Face!!!  And then in small print down the page….two-thirds of the time.

  2. Back when I did community theater I’d remove my glasses for performances (period pieces &I hated contacts) and found that even if I couldn’t the other actor’s faces, I could identify people pretty accurately from their gait…..

  3. I believe Cory’s main character in Little Brother got around this system at his school by putting a pebble in his shoe. Talk about easy to defeat security….

    1. So we’re always going to have to take our shoes off after all. Great.

      We could always ID people by barefootprints. I’m pretty sure that this means pressure patterns through shoes. Like when you sign the pad on the swiper at the cash register, it (apparently) IDs your signature through pressure patterns rather than line analysis.

  4. Footprints are pretty identifiable to the naked eye – as one tiny example, draw a mental line between the tip of the big toe and the tip of the smallest toe: the pattern people’s middle toes make (how far they stick above or below the line, how much further they stick out than the toes on either side) are quite distinct.  Ditto the width of the print at the thinnest part (where the arch of the foot is) relative to the toes and the ball of the heel. If you look at barefoot footprints a lot, you quickly realize they’re as identifiable as faces.  I grew up on a small island in the tropics where everyone went barefoot all the time; with a population below 500 for the entire island it was pretty easy to see who’d been to the store or the post office before you that day.

  5. “But these footprints…his foot is just like mine….if I follow them…Oops!”
    “Yes. I’m your brother. I’m not dead.”
    –paraphrase from “The Libation Bearers”

    For more than two thousand effing years, people have been making fun of Euripedes for this.
    Who’s laughing now, eh?

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