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Sci Justice. 2013 Sep;53(3):358-62. doi: 10.1016/j.scijus.2013.05.001. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Development of a methodology for the standardisation and improvement of 'Smartphone' photography of patterned bruises and other cutaneous injuries.

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  • 1Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Wales, UK.


Human bite-mark analyses can play a prominent role in forensic case investigations, including those involving sexual assault. High-quality photographs routinely secure a link between a bite-mark and an individual's dentition. Access to around the clock forensic photography, however, is often limited, resulting in delay and/or missed opportunities to record valuable evidence. The emergence of Smartphone high-quality photographic technology now provides a previously unimagined opportunity to gather timely forensic photographic evidence. Problems can arise, however, due to the relatively poor quality of the photographs, as a result of many of those taking photographs having received little or no forensic photography training. This study compares unassisted photography with assisted photography, by a specifically developed camera application (App), to provide a standardised method for taking forensic photographs. An App, written in Java, was hosted on the Google Android Operating System, on a Samsung Galaxy SII Smartphone. Twenty-four volunteers participated in a study to photograph a pseudo bite-mark using three methods, (1) unassisted (as a control), (2) assisted by an ABFO No.2 right-angled photographic reference scale and (3) assisted by the App. The App, method (3), was shown to consistently outperform methods (1) and (2), demonstrating greater standardisation and precision (p<0.001). Analysis of the data showed the extent to which acquiring an accurate photograph depends on the image being orthogonal to the camera. It appears likely that the relatively inaccurate photographs acquired by methods (1) and (2), were as a result of deviation from the plane, orthogonal to the bite-mark. Therefore, the App was successful in ensuring that the camera was both orthogonal and at an appropriate distance, relative to the bite-mark. Thus, the App enhanced the abilities of non-experts to acquire more accurate photographs and created the potential to significantly improve the quality of forensic photographs.

Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Bite-marks; Forensic photography

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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