Surface scanning of the face of a suspect is presented as a way to better match the facial features with those of a perpetrator from CCTV footage. We performed a simple pilot study where we obtained facial surface scans of volunteers and then in blind trials tried to match these scans with 2D photographs of the faces of the volunteers. Fifteen male volunteers were surface scanned using a Polhemus FastSCAN Cobra Handheld Laser Scanner. Three photographs were taken of each volunteer's face in full frontal, profile and from above at an angle of 45 degrees and also 45 degrees laterally. Via special software (MIMICS and Photoshop) the surface scans were matched with the photographs in blind trials. The matches were graded as: a good fit; possible fit; and no fit. All the surface scans and photos were matched correctly, although one surface scan could be matched with two angled photographs, meaning that the discriminatory value was 86.7%. We also tested the surface scanner in terms of reliability in establishing point measures on skulls, and compared with physical measurements performed by calipers. The variation was on average 1 mm for five cranial measures. We suggest how surface scanning might be applied in forensic facial identification.
Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, 2009, Vol 5, Issue 3, p. 167-73