Scientists at Staffordshire University, in partnership with the West Yorkshire Police, are developing a shoe identification (ID) technology to assist in catching criminals. The system relies on capturing video or photo evidence of a masked criminal, with at least one of their shoes visible. When a suspect is apprehended, their shoes are removed and placed on a turntable within a photography light box. The shoes are then recorded on video as they rotate under visible and infrared light, creating 3D models from various angles. If the scanned shoes match the make, model, and size of the shoes in the crime scene footage, it can serve as evidence of the suspect’s involvement. Distinctive details, such as scuff marks, can further strengthen the case.
The aim is to establish a national database of shoe images based on 3D scans to aid in identifying shoe makes and models. The technology is expected to be tested by select UK police forces next year. Dr. Megan Needham from Staffordshire University stated that the process is quick, taking approximately 30 minutes, and the equipment costs less than £500 (about US$635).
The long-term goal is for footwear units across the nation and detention officers in custody suites to utilize this method for scanning suspects’ shoes.