Scientists at Lancaster University are appealing for people to submit photographs of their hands to help catch online criminals.
Researchers in Lancaster and Dundee want 5,000 “citizen scientists” to help create a database of images to train machines to identify child abusers by analysing videos of their hands.
They would analyse unique features such as vein patterns, scars and freckles.
The 2.5m Euro project called H-Unique, funded by the European Research Council and in collaboration with the University of Dundee, will build on the ground-breaking research techniques pioneered by forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black.
These techniques have previously been used successfully in court to identify individuals from images of their hands in relation to child abuse cases. Prof Black, of Lancaster University, who is leading the new research explained: “The hand retains and displays many anatomical differences due to our genetics, development, environment or even accidents so each person’s hands are different. Now for the first time, researchers will analyse all the factors that make a hand truly unique so we can understand and use them reliably as evidence to identify individuals.
“A significant step change is required in the science to both reliably and repeatedly extract and compare anatomical information from large numbers of images.”
Later on this year, researchers will collect images from more than 5,000 participants, creating a database.
To join, visit lancaster.ac.uk/h-unique.