FBI Wants Better Automated Image Analysis for Tattoos

It’s a tougher problem than facial recognition

3 min read
FBI Wants Better Automated Image Analysis for Tattoos
Photo: iStockphoto

Nothing makes a statement quite like a tattoo. And law enforcement in the United States increasingly uses them to help identify criminals and, sometimes, the victims of crime or natural disasters.

Today police take photographs of tattoos when suspects are booked, categorizing them using keywords defined in a biometric standard called ANSI-NIST-ITL 1-2011. The standard has eight main categories, such as “animal” and “plant,” as well as 70 subcategories, such as “cat,” “bird,” “flower,” and “leaf.” The FBI maintains a database of tattoos as part of its Next Generation Identification Program, but searching by keyword is problematic because the categories aren’t granular enough and different people often tag the same tattoo differently.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

Keep Reading ↓Show less