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Police agency unveils anti-crime technology

TOKYO >> Japan’s National Police Agency will be using technology capable of extracting singular fingerprints from overlapping prints at crime scenes.

In December, the agency installed a device with this innovative technology, said to be the first in the world. It plans to deploy the technology at police stations nationwide within a few years, after first examining its effectiveness in Tokyo. The agency hopes it will significantly boost their ability to identify suspects.

The portable device, called a hyperspectral imager, resembles a video camera. The imager irradiates overlapping fingerprints and analyzes the wavelength of light reflected by the fat and amino acid components in the prints, then displays images of individual prints that can potentially be identified.

The technology was developed by the agency’s National Research Institute of Police Science, along with Waseda University and other institutions. Extracted fingerprints are entered into the agency’s database and compared against the 11 million fingerprints registered there.

Unique and permanent, fingerprints are a component in criminal investigations. Current fingerprint matching compares “feature points,” and if 12 points of two sets of prints match, they are regarded as belonging to the same person.

According to investigators, fingerprints often overlap on doorknobs, window locks and furniture, items that are frequently touched by people. Now, these high-touch areas with layers of prints can potentially aid in identifying suspects and solving multiple crimes committed by one person.

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