In forensic science, facial reconstructions are used to stimulate public interest as a last resort when unidentifiable craniofacial remains are recovered. It is a common misconception that facial reconstruction will produce an exact likeness: A resemblance is the best that can be achieved. Variables such as obesity, age, ethnicity, and sex of the individual can ultimately be estimated only from the skeleton. Any individual skull could, in principle, generate a multiplicity of facial reconstructions, all being equally valid outcomes. Research at the University of Sheffield is aimed at developing a computer system for facial reconstruction that will be accurate, rapid, repeatable, accessible, and flexible. Average tissue-depth measurements collected from a small number of landmark sites on the face are being eliminated in favor of volume data collection from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment. Virtual reality modeling language (VRML) and the Internet are being used to increase the versatility and accessibility of facial reconstructions. Research on data collection from the MRI and prototype VRML interpolation models simulating obesity, aging, and ethnicity is described. Some strengths and weaknesses of the models and the potential for application of these models in forensic science and human rights abuse investigations are discussed.
|Forensic Science Commuications
|Published - 2000