International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 119, Issue 6, pp 335–343 | Cite as

Could earprint identification be computerised? An illustrated proof of concept paper

  • G. N. RuttyEmail author
  • A. Abbas
  • D. Crossling
Original Article


To date, the ear remains an under-utilised part of the human body for use in forensic practice. Although the ear has been used since the nineteenth century as part of the process of human identification, in this particular function its use, to date, remains low and in the case of earprints, controversial. A limited number of publications exist related to methods used for the purpose of ear image identification and the growing field of ear biometrics but to date, a computerised system for earprint identification does not exist. This paper illustrates the concept of a computerised earprint identification system. To assist those considering similar developments we share the concept problems and possible solutions we have identified and encountered to date, and highlight the advantages for such a system over traditional manual methods used for earprint identification.


Ear Earprint Computer Biometric Centroids 



We wish to thank the Jean Shanks Foundation for their support in relation to this study as well as all those who volunteered to take part in this study. We also wish to thank K9 Crime Scene Investigation Ltd, UK for allowing us to use their computer software to investigate on the concept of computerisation of earprint identification. We continue to work with K9 Crime Scene Investigation Ltd, UK to research the concept of computerised earprint identification


  1. 1.
    Swift B, Rutty GN (2003) The human ear: its role in forensic practice. J Forensic Sci 48:153–160Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rutty GN (2001) The use of temperatures recorded from the external auditory canal in the estimation of the time since death. MD Thesis, University of SheffieldGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Iannarelli AV (1989) Ear identification. Forensic identification series. Paramount Publishing Company, Fremont, CAGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Champod C, Evett IW, Kuchler B (2001) Earmarks as evidence: a critical review. J Forensic Sci 46:1275–1284Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Meijerman L, Sholl S, De Conti F, Giacon M, van der Lugt C, Drusini A, Vanezis P, Maat G (2004) Exploratory study on classification and individualisation of earprints. Forensic Sci Int 140:91–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Van der Lugt C (2001) Earprint Identification. Elsevier Bedrijfsinformatiem, GravenhageGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Smith DR, Limbird KG, Hoffman JM (2002) Identification of human skeletal remains by comparison of bony details of the cranium using computerised tomographic (CT) scans. J Forensic Sci 47:937–939Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Iannarelli AV (1989) Ear identification. Forensic identification series. Paramount Publishing Company, Fremont, CAGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Burge M, Burger W (1998) Ear biometrics. In: Jain A, Bolle R, Pankanti S (eds) Biometrics: personal identification in a networked society. Kluwer Academic, Boston, MA, pp 273–286Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Burge M, Burger W (1997) Ear biometrics for machine vision. In: Proceedings of the 21st workshop of the Austrian association for pattern recognition, Austrian Computer Society, Wien, Austria, pp 275–282Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Abbas A (2003) The role of the human ear in the process of forensic identification. BMedSci Thesis, University of LeicesterGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Abbas A, Rutty GN (2003) The possible role of ear piercings in forensic identification. J Pathol 201(Suppl):44AGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rutty GN, Abbas A (2004) A computerised system of human ear image and print identification. In: Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Dallas, February. Abstract B171Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Abbas A, Rutty GN (2003) Forensic web watch. J Clin Forensic Med 10:129–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Alexander M, Laubach LL (1968) Anthropometry of the human ear. US Air Force Aerospace Medical Research, OhioGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hurley D, Nixon MS, Carter JN (2000a) Automatic ear recognition by force field transformations. In: Proceedings IEE Colloquium: Visual biometrics (00/018), pp 7/1–7/5Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Chang K, Bowyer KW, Sarkar S, Victor B (2003) Comparison and combination of ear and face images in appearance-based biometrics. IEEE Trans Pattern Anal Mach Intell 25(9):1160–1165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Farkas LG (1974) Growth of normal and reconstructed auricles. In: Tanzer RC (ed) Symposium on reconstruction of the auricle; proceedings of the symposium of the ear. Mosby, London, pp 24–32Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Farkas LG, Posnick JC, Hreczko TM (1992). Anthropometric growth study of the ear. Cleft Palate-Craniofac J 29:324–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Maat GJR (1999) Ear print project—brief report on the pilot study period September–November 1999, Barge’s Anthropologica, Leiden University Medical Centre. UnpublishedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Patent WO 97/28513. D Crossing. Imprint Identification System.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Victor B, Bowyer K, Sarkar S (2002) An evaluation of face and ear biometrics. IEEE Proc Int Conf Pattern Recognition 1:429–432Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kennedy RB (1996) Preliminary study on the uniqueness of barefoot impressions. Can Soc Forensic Sci 29(4):233–238Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kennedy RB (1996) Uniqueness of bare feet and its use as a means of identification. Forensic Sci Int 82:81–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Brown T, Rutty GN (2005) Forensic podiatry. In: Payne-James J, Byard R, Corey T, Henderson C (eds) Encyclopaedia of forensic and legal medicine. Elsevier Science, London, in pressGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forensic Pathology UnitUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.DevonUK

Personalised recommendations