Lois Gibson, a Houston police forensic sketch artist, has helped a group of Michigan State University researchers in the development of FaceSketchID, a computer program that could soon revolutionize how police identify criminal suspects, reports the Houston Chronicle. The software can help find a name for a police sketch by comparing drawn facial features to existing mug shots of identified people.
The software, four years in the making, will match hand-drawn sketches to a vast photo collection quicker and more accurately, developer Anil K. Jain said. Traditionally, police have distributed sketches to the media, hoping someone will recognize the face. Jain said an automated search of mug shot data bases will be much more efficient. Gibson said only about two dozen forensic artists work full-time on sketching in the U.S. “There have been 3,000 to 4,000 people trained to be sketch artists that aren’t being hired because police think that sketches don’t help,” Gibson said.