Feb 14, 2011

Wiskers Scan

Have you ever been chased by a polar bear and wondered how you could identify this specific bear from all others for accusation purposes? Me neither.

Although it turns out that polar bears can be easily identified by their whisker pattern.  Every single polar bear out there has a unique whisker pattern similar to a human's fingerprint.  This pattern can be used to identify and distinguish different bears (if you can get a good picture).  This distinction is exactly what researchers at the University of Manitoba are trying to exploit.  They are calling for submissions from the public to build up their polar bear database (so far they have 16 bears categorized).  Of course the average Joe doesn't have pictures of a polar bear up close (especially in the required orientation).  But if you happen to have some pictures of polar bears lying around, head on over to the Polar Bear Photo-Identification Library and submit them.  
Anchor Points for whisker spot detection

Extracted whisker spots for algorithm.

So you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with Biometrics?  I just found it very interesting that humans are not the only animals that Biometrics could be applied to and thought that you would want to know about a program using basically Biometrics on polar bears.



  1. Are polar bears the only animals that they are trying to track this way? It seems that most animals with whiskers would have the same potential. This is interesting though. Maybe soon they will be able to catch grizzly bears that attack people by more advanced technology like this instead of teeth marks and etc.

  2. There are a couple of more databases about animals such as the The Penguin Recognition Project (http://www.spotthepenguin.com/), and plans for a great white shark database (http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2010/7177.html) but so far nothing like you suggested although I think it is a good idea.

  3. Ha! What a great post. Love your sense of humor, and I also think it's interesting biometrics can be used for animals.

  4. You haven't posted something in a while, I would love to hear something new.