Active Research and Development

A New Method for Non-Contact Recovery of Footwear Mark Impressions Using a 3D Structured Light Scanner

This research is investigating the application of a 3D structured light scanner to recover impression evidence from the crime scene. Some of the perceived benefits of using this technology would be that the evidence would be recovered in a non-contact manner. Also the acquisition of the evidence will be much quicker than using traditional casting methods.

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A Quantitative Assessment of Shoeprint Accidental Patterns with Implications Regarding Similarity, Frequency and Chance Association of Features

Significant advances in learning outcomes are being demanded of all forensic disciplines. This is particularly true of the forensic identification sciences, including the analysis and assessment of footwear impression evidence. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences reported a deficit in knowledge concerning the evidentiary value of forensic shoeprint impressions (NAS 2009). The conclusions of this review body support continued studies to extend knowledge concerning the statistical assessment of similarity, and the relative frequency of class and accidental characteristics present in various populations. To address these mandates, the proposed project asserts that an appropriately constructed research study can have a 4-fold impact on the field of shoeprint impression evidence.

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Asymetrical Differences in Shoes and Shoeprint Evidence Due to Medical Conditions

Asymmetrical changes in shoes and shoeprint evidence can be caused by medical conditions in pairs of shoes with similar time worn (e.g., a different degree of wear on the insole can be caused by dysfunctions in the excretory system). This project examines the effects of different medical conditions in asymmetrical findings in shoes and shoeprint evidence.

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Development of a Portable 3D Imaging System for Capturing Shoe and Tire Impressions

The proposed project is to develop a novel and portable high-resolution (e.g., 600 dots per inch, or dpi) optical 3D scanning system to measure shoe or tire impressions. The 3D imaging technique is based on the binary defocusing technique and the auto-exposure control method that were recently invented by our team. Preliminary study has demonstrated that this approach permits camera-pixel-resolution 3D imagery capture and enables precise timing control, and thus has the potential to achieve sufficient accuracy and resolution for capturing shoe or tire impression in both snow and soil.

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Differences in the Physical Dimensions Between Static and Dynamic Test Impressions

It has long been anecdotally observed that there can be a difference in physical dimensions between static and dynamic test impressions. The researchers have taken both static and dynamic test impressions from 90 pairs of shoes (360 test impressions). They will take five measurements (1800 measurements) from each impression to determine if this observation is accurate. In addition the researchers will attempt to determine if any difference is correlated with shoe style. The authors have broken each pair into one of three broad styles – flat bottom/continuous sole, non-continuous (shallowly recessed mid portion) athletic shoes and shoes/boots with a defined/stepped heel.

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Differential Quantitative Analysis of Particles from the Contact Surfaces and Recessed Areas of Footwear

Although it is well-recognized that criminals track dusts to and from every crime scene, dust particles on a suspect’s shoes are very seldom used as evidence linking the accused to the crime. The major obstacle preventing the use of this type of evidence is that the shoes have mixtures of particles arising from activity before, during and after the crime itself. Methods separating the evidentiary particle “signal” from background noise would enable a powerful new and widely applicable forensic capability. This capability would augment traditional footwear pattern evidence with objective quantitative associations, addressing one of the specific issues raised in the 2009 NAS report. Our prior NIJ research has shown corresponding particle sets to provide extremely strong, objective, quantitative, associative evidence. We hypothesize that by separately analyzing particles harvested from the outermost contact surfaces and the more protected recessed areas of footwear soles, we will be able to detect sequential footwear exposures and enable the widespread use of this new forensic capability.

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Dinosaurs to Forensic Science: Digital Tracks and Traces (DigTrace)

The procedures used by crime scene officers have changed little in a hundred years; footwear evidence is still photographed and cast if deemed of importance. Footprints are the neglected ‘Cinderella’ evidence of the crime scene, especially as time pressures of CSI grows. We are addressing this by placing a simple tool for the 3D analysis of footwear evidence in the hands of every CSI officer. The research team at Bournemouth have fused computer and earth sciences to translate academic research on fossil footprints into freeware for use by police forces and forensic services across the UK.

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If the Shoe Fits: A Randomised Control Trial on the Effect of a Digitised In-Custody Footwear Technology Compared to a Paper-Based Footwear Method

This research will be conducted with the support of the University of Cambridge in conjunction with Julie Henderson completing her Master's study. It is the start of further work that she will be doing around the Tread Finder App that she developed and looking to the future. Ms. Henderson intends to complete her Ph.D. starting in September, through Huddersfield University, to examine the effectiveness of the crime scene capture device that Bo Li (Everspry) has produced with a view to measuring the ability of the digital crime scene image to be coded and compared remotely against the Tread Finder in-custody scan.

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Pellet Based 3d Print Extrusion Process for Shoe Manufacturing

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is aimed at developing a novel cost-effective 3D printing process to manufacture shoes. Currently shoes are mass manufactured, typically overseas, using fixed molds that do not optimally meet the need of an individual. 3D printing of shoes offers the promise of providing individual customization tailored not just to fit, style, and colors, but to individual biomechanics and medical needs, the latter of which are being poorly met with mass manufactured shoes.

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Statistical Models for the Generation and Interpretation of Shoeprint Evidence

Develop prototype software for detection of tread ridges in outsole imagery to facilitate the extraction and analysis of tread patterns. The method is now being adapted to better handle the specific shading patterns observed in outsole images and impressions which provide cues to 3D shape, in particular which components of the tread (e.g. ridges) are likely to leave behind impressions or prints.

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U.S. National Footwear Database Evaluation Study

The FBI Laboratory and the National Institute of Justice will establish a working group to evaluate the level-of-effort required to develop a more comprehensive footwear databaes that is available to state and local law enforcement agencies for use in their forensic casework. In addition, the FBI Laboratory may leverage the expertise of this working group to assist in the planning, development, and execution of footwear blackbox/white box research studies. Finally, the FBI Laboratory will assess the ability of conducting similar database development and/or research in other pattern-based disciplines.

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Understanding the Expert Decision Making Process in Forensic Footwear Examinations: Accuracy, Decision Rules, Predictive Value and the Conditional Probability of an Outcome

Forensic footwear examination and interpretation is a complex and distributed activity influenced by a host of competing and evolving factors that vary as a function of case attributes and examiner experience. The aim of this project is to use the dominance-based rough set approach (DRSA) to better discern how examiners interpret the pattern recognition process of footwear comparison from start to finish.

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