Quantcast
Connect with us

Michigan police 3-D printing murder victim’s fingers to try to unlock his phone

Published

on

Image: Smart phone displays fingerprint prompt (Shutterstock.com)

Police in Michigan used 3-D printing to reproduce a murder victim’s finger in order to unlock his phone.

Fusion.com reported Thursday that lab director Anil Jain of Michigan State University was approached by police in June and asked for his help unlocking a dead man’s cell phone.

Jain is a computer science professor who specializes in biometric identifiers like “facial recognition programs, fingerprint scanners and tattoo matching.” His job is to try and make these identifiers as difficult to fake as possible.

ADVERTISEMENT

Fusion’s Rose Eveleth said that police confidentiality prohibits her from revealing the name and exact details of the case, but “(T)he gist is this: a man was murdered, and the police think there might be clues to who murdered him stored in his phone. But they can’t get access to the phone without his fingerprint or passcode. So instead of asking the company that made the phone to grant them access, they’re going another route: having the Jain lab create a 3D printed replica of the victim’s fingers. With them, they hope to unlock the phone.”

Ph.D. student Sunpreet Arora explained to Eveleth that the police had the murder victim’s fingerprints, which were taken when he was alive. Using scans of the prints, Arora created 3-D replicas of all 10 fingers.

“We don’t know which finger the [victim] used,” Arora explained. “We think it’s going to be the thumb or index finger — that’s what most people use — but we have all ten.”

Normal reconstructions of fingerprints are insufficient to unlock a phone because the phone’s fingerprint reader is what is known as “capacitative.” They rely on the closing of tiny electrical circuits. When your fingers touch the capacitative circuits, their ridges cause the circuits to come together and conduct a charge, generating an image of the fingerprint.

Plastic 3-D printing material doesn’t carry electrical charges like human skin, so Arora coated the artificial fingerprints in a thin layer of metallic particles, enabling the scanner to read them.

ADVERTISEMENT

Arora and Jain have yet to hand over the artificial fingerprints to the police. More testing is currently in order, Arora said.

Since the domestic terror attack in San Bernardino, California last year, the topic of cell phone privacy and security as pertaining to police investigations has been hotly debated. One San Bernardino shooter’s phone was locked with a passcode, which the FBI sought Apple’s help in breaking.

Legal expert Brian Choi told Fusion, “The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination. Here, the fingerprints are of the deceased victim, not the murder suspect. Obviously, the victim is not at risk of incrimination.” This makes the case different from situations where an accused party owns the phone.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Trump acts out his Superman fantasy for Florida seniors at campaign rally

Published

on

It's not the first time President Donald J. Trump has acted out his apparent Superman fixation at one of his superspreader rallies - and it certainly doesn't appear it will be his last.

“In several phone calls last weekend from the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Mr. Trump shared an idea he was considering: When he left the hospital, he wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him, according to people with knowledge of the conversations. But underneath his button-down dress shirt, he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer,” The Times reported earlier this month.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

BLM activist details FBI visit to her home: ‘This is why this president is so dangerous’

Published

on

President Donald Trump's incitement of racism in his supporters was blasted by Black Lives Matter activist Alicia Garza on Friday.

"The FBI visited my house today," she revealed on Twitter.

"They arrested a man in Idaho on weapons charges who they believe was affiliated with white supremacist groups. They found my name on a list in his home, alongside others," she explained.

"This is why this President is so dangerous," she continued. "He is stoking fires he has no intention of controlling."

"I’m ok y’all, but this sh*t is not ok. Vote this muthaf*cka out," she suggested. "For real."

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Did a maskless Trump supporter flash a ‘white power’ sign at his The Villages rally?

Published

on

Did a maskless supporter of President Donald J. Trump really just flash a "white power" sign at his rally at The Villages in Florida?

The sign, with the thumb and index finger’s tips touching while the other three fingers are extended was traditionally known as the okay symbol.

Southern Poverty Law Center said the hand signal is "used ironically by a number of Trump supporters at far-right rallies. It’s been particularly prominent among far-right street protesters such as the Proud Boys and the Northwest-based Patriot Prayer, whose members have prominently displayed the sign in group photos and during street protests."

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE