Mar 22, 2011

Seeing Double?

Identical twins are well, identical right? Wrong.  They may look identical to the naked eye but twins still have different fingerprints and irises.  How do we know? Thanks in part to research by Kevin Bowyer and Patrick Flynn.

Every year in August the town of Twinsburg, Ohio becomes home to the largest official gathering of twins in the world.  And every year guess who you are sure to find there?  Yup, Bowyer and Flynn.

Bowyer and Flynn are researchers at the University of Notre Dame working on image based biometrics.  They have been developing Biometric technologies that compare face photographs, face thermograms, iris images and many others to identify people.

They find volunteers at the Twinsburg event, where they take high resolution pictures of the twins as well as 3-D face scanning and iris scanning.  This imaging helps them refine their technologies so that the program can tell identical twins apart.  

The research into identical twins is very important.  The duo has received two grants from the FBI for research into the distinguishing of identical twins based on biometrics.  It makes sense that it is important for the FBI to want two distinguish between twins.

Just as a side note: Two is a common theme huh? Twins, two researchers, two grants. Source.



  1. I've always been curious about twin morphology. Besides almost everything, one thing that sets me apart from other people are my scars. I heal different than you or another, I wonder if twins heal the same way or if it isn't related to genetics at all. Also, birthmarks and moles. I have a lot of moles and not many people have as many, but if I had a twin would they have similar ones in similar places? I don't know, not my field but it interests me.

  2. I need a lawn chair, cooler, and a map for how to get to twinsburg. This would be awesome to go see.

  3. Do you know when in the development that we get fingerprints? Or, I guess, more generally, do you know why they are not the same?

  4. @ Cold Steel & J.D. I will do some more research into twins and why they are different and how it applies to biometrics and post back if I find something interesting.

  5. I guess that's why we have computers to tell the difference between people rather than I guy with really good eyes and is an expert at those side-by-side comparison pictures. Can you find the difference between these pictures? It's pretty cool how good biometrics can get. The thermal imaging of the face is a real cool concept.

  6. Great pic, great topic. It's interesting they receive funding from the FBI, though not surprising. I wonder if they're also getting published/funded by more academic sources. Biometrics is one of those field where the line between academic research and industry application is almost nonexistent. Again, raising some interesting ethical questions.