Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Monday, 26 November 2007

Animated e-fit boosts recognition

Animated Tony Blair
Tony Blair's image is animated to show the results of the technique

Recognition rates among witnesses who are shown police e-fits can be improved by animating and caricaturing the images, researchers have discovered.

Experts at Stirling University and the University of Central Lancashire have developed a system which works by exaggerating facial features.

Traditional e-fit images have a recognition rate of less than 40%.

With the new technique, studies found the animated images could produce up to 80% recognition in tests.

The system works by using a computer program to continually enhance or change distinctive features in a face.

It can be used for police sketches, composites and e-fits.


Researcher Charlie Frowd, who has been working to improve recognition rates for more than 10 years, said the technique would work best for television appeals.

He said: "Normally static computer generated or sketched facial composites of criminals are publicised through newspapers and TV shows such as Crimewatch.

"However, they are often poorly recognised.

"This new research finds that a composite, especially a bad one, is much better identified if seen as moving caricature.

"If the police used caricature animation on TV crime programmes, the identification of criminals should substantially improve."

Co-researcher Prof Peter Hancock from the University of Stirling said the system's success stemmed from the different way individuals process information.

He said: "We found through our studies that different people need different levels of caricature to best recognise a face, so showing them an image as a series of caricatures - from caricature to anti-caricature - is the best way to improve recognition rates."

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