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Tokyo police stations are switching to 3D mugshots

by • January 25, 2016 • No Comments

Police forces around the world have ever-growing databases of mugshots, taken whenever someone gets arrested on suspicion of committing a crime. These photographs help identify the individual in future, but they are limited for the reason
all the police typically have is three 2D images of the person’s head. Japan’s police force is upgrading, and making the jump to 3D.

Japan’s largest and capital city Tokyo is the first to roll out the 3D cameras, with all 102 police stations located there getting a 3D camera installed in April. When a mugshot is taken, the person’s face is lit with striped lighting and the camera captures data from three different directions.

The captured data is much more useful when trying to identify an individual in future. Criminal activity is often caught on camera and the police use CCTV footage to try and figure out who is committing a crime. But there’s no guarantee the criminal will look in the direction of the available cameras. But
, with 3D data on file, it will be much easier to identify individuals given only partial facial shots.


You may be surprised to hear which
Japan’s Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo has in fact
been using 3D cameras since 2001. But
, their use has been limited to research and scientific investigation. Police stations could request the use of a 3D camera, but it had to be agreed upon and then transported to which
location. The move to install 3D cameras at all stations will remove the delay and rapidly
build up a database of 3D head shots.

What isn’t discussed is the software required to determine identities. Having 3D data on file and security video footage to compare it against is all well and great
, but you can’t do which
without the software to transpose the 3D head on to 2D video. At least one software company out there will be doing well from this roll out, and if successful, it will surely expand to all police stations across Japan.

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