Footprints as Accurate as Fingerprints?

08 Jan

I don’t mean the friction ridge patterns on the soles of our feet. We know these are as individual as the ridge patterns on our fingertips. But what about the pattern with which our feet strike the ground? Could these also provide individualizing evidence? The answer just might be yes.




Each of us walks with a different gait pattern, meaning that our footsteps are aligned and spaced in a unique pattern. Some people march, others swagger, and still others shuffle along. Also the way our foot strikes the ground is unique. If a method can be devised to analyze heel strike, foot roll, and push-off then perhaps this might be useful evidence. In a recent paper published in the British Journal of the Royal Society Interface a group seems to have developed a process for obtaining three-dimensional images of footprints and their studies have revealed that this analysis is highly individual. They quoted and accuracy of 99.6%. If this turns out to be the case, then the analysis of footprints left in sand, soil, or another soft material might prove to be a useful forensic science technique.


6 responses to “Footprints as Accurate as Fingerprints?

  1. Elaine Davis

    January 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Cool–I’m a beach writer, so that infomation I can put to ready use! Thanks, Doug.


  2. James M. Keane

    January 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I’d say 99.6% is enough accuracy to expand this as a research field with high potential for development and success.


  3. Beth Anne

    January 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    The computerized gait analyzing lab at Temple University’s School of Podiatric Medicine could do this in so many ways. Spend a day there and you will be fascinated! I was!


  4. Jodie Renner

    January 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Interesting! I’m sending my crime writer clients here to read this. Thanks for the valuable insider info, Doug.


  5. wilaemerson

    January 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    And….let’s convince the bad guys/gals to always go bare-foot when they’re doing their dirty deeds. Another tool in the investigative process, excellent for writers.


  6. EEGiorgi

    January 11, 2012 at 9:04 am

    The problem, though, is that even though individuals do present unique patterns, the tools currently available to analyze prints are far from accurate. I posted about it here: more work needs to be done in order to make fingerprint analysis a proper science, whether we apply it to hands, fingers, or feet.



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