Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Image Recognition: Facial and license plate recognition news items

There are two on-line news articles related to image recognition that I would like to bring to your attention.

The first news article is about law enforcement in Tacoma, Washington, USA using a facial recognition package to match 16 years worth of prisoner mug shots with pictures taken by ATM (Automated Teller Machines) in a forgery and theft investigation to generate the lead needed to solve the case.

The second news article is from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA where local law enforcement used a license-plate recognition system to make 20 arrests and recover 23 stolen vehicles and license plates in a 25 day period.

The common thread here is, of course, automatic image recognition. These software algorithms have come a long way in the last decade. However, one should understand that the conditions are partially or completely controlled in both of these applications - i.e. distance, lighting, exposure, aspect (turned toward the camera), and (possibly) compression all fall within acceptable boundaries. In addition, with the license plate recognition problem, the character set and fonts were known in advance. The controlled conditions and a priori knowledge significantly increase the accuracy of the results tremendously and the chances of a successful investigation and prosecution.

(Hat-tip to JUSTNETNews, USA - I highly recommend this free service of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, or NLECTC, which is part of the National Institute of Justice, USA)

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