Sniffing out criminals

Forget iris and fingerprint scans – scanning noses could be a quicker and easier way to verify a person’s identity, according to scientists at the University of Bath.

Working with researchers at The University of the West of England (UWE) they've developed a photographic system called Photoface which can scan the 3d shape of peoples noses and then use computer software to analyse them according to six main nose shapes.

Dr Adrian Evans from Bath university's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering said: 

“Noses are prominent facial features, and yet their use as a biometric has been largely unexplored. We wanted to find out how good they could be at recognising individuals from a database.

 ”There’s no one magic biometric - irises are a powerful biometric, but can be difficult to capture accurately and can easily be obscured by eyelids or glasses.

 “Noses, however, are much easier to photograph and are harder to conceal, so a system that recognises noses would work better with an uncooperative subject or for covert surveillance.

 “We’ve only tried this on a small sample of people, but the technique certainly shows potential, perhaps to be used in combination with other identification techniques.”