Crime clue lies in eyes of victims: Study

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London: For all the James Bonds out there, it's time to breathe a bit easy.

They may no longer have to go too far to find a clue as researchers have now discovered that recovering reflections from the eyes of victims could help identify the perpetrators without much difficulty.

All thanks to high-end digital photography.

It means in the victim's eyes lie hidden the image of the perpetrator, albeit in a very small form, according to the new findings.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers at University of York in England first recovered the faces of bystanders from reflections in the eyes of the victims, by zooming in on high-resolution passport-style photographs.


The observers could identify the images of the bystanders despite the low resolution.

“In crimes in which the victims are photographed, such as hostage taking or child sex abuse, reflections in the eyes of the photographic subject could help to identify perpetrators,” said Rob Jenkins of the Department of Psychology at the University of York who led the research.

Images of people retrieved from cameras seized as evidence during criminal investigations may be used to piece together networks of associates or to link individuals to particular locations,” the research said.

"The pupil of the eye is like a black mirror. To enhance the image, you have to zoom in and adjust the contrast. A face image that is recovered from a reflection in the subject's eye is about 30,000 times smaller than the subject's face,” said co-researcher Christie Kerr of the School of Psychology, University of Glasgow.

The findings, appeared in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, also confirmed that human beings are very efficient in recognising familiar faces, even from low-resolution images.

“Our findings highlight the remarkable robustness of human face recognition, as well as the untapped potential of high-resolution photography," he said.

The researchers have used technical advances in the details available in digital photography to harness this human ability for further use in forensics.

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