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Success Story: LatentSleuth: A Case Study on the Impact of Federal R&D Funding

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2021

This case study illustrates the impact of funding mechanisms of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that enabled a company and university research team to create FLASH ID, a quantitative handwriting analysis software, which ultimately developed into a quantitative latent fingerprint-to-reference product called “LatentSleuth.”



LatentSleuth has emerged as an innovative, commercially available workstation that provides objective and quantitative analysis in latent-to-reference and latent-to-latent fingerprint matching. Beyond funding, the FBI Laboratory provided project oversight and technical guidance that helped transition LatentSleuth from a concept to a prototype and eventually a commercialized product. Latent Sleuth quantifies the Level 2 ridge structure of a fingerprint, including the friction ridge paths and events. LatentSleuth enables advanced comparisons between latent and reference prints returned from FIS searches based on a quantitative evaluation of their similarity. LatentSleuth has computer algorithms that describe nonlinear transformations that enable the analysis and detection of complex features while remaining independent of rotation and distortions because of skin elasticity. Latent Sleuth has matching capabilities that uniquely extend beyond standard features that include the tips of the fingers and palm prints. Overlays of the latent print are generated onto each reference print with precise placement information. It also enables side-by-side analysis and annotation tools for the examiner to evaluate the prints, record observations, and build case documentation. In addition, LatentSleuth has a distortion grid that examiners may superimpose on the print to see the amount and location of distortion that is needed for the latent to be warped onto reference prints.


Date Published: September 1, 2021