I walk therefore I am

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forensic podiatrists footprint
A diagram of a bare footprint and its outline. On the left are shown identification lines that are used by forensic podiatrists: (1) web space outline; (2) web ridge lines; (3) arch line; (4) lateral foot line; and (5) heel line. On the right are the foot zones and their relative sizes: (6) forefoot?40%; (7) mid-foot?30%; and (8) rearfoot?30%. Illustration - EvidenceMagazine.com

Starting from the very first steps of human evolution, footprints offered?information crucial for the survival. Finding and tracking down the footmarks left by the animals guaranteed food for our ancestors. This is the reason why these little signs on the ground became worth exploring. Small paw prints gave the information that their owner was not too hard to capture, while rather big ones alarmed the hunter.

Later on and much earlier than fingerprints, footprints established their authority in investigatory system as their presence on the crime scene provided good clue for investigators to detect the approximate height and sometimes even the gender of a suspect.
Footprints lost their investigative importance as more cunning technologies like DNA testing or CCTV cameras emerged. As the world was becoming more and more eager to imprint every step of our lives, one could only guess that the great comeback of the footprints in the world dominated by the need to control everything was just a matter of the time.

And this time has already come. From now on your walk can tell much more about you than you have ever thought. Researchers have made it possible to detect the identity of a person by the pressure created from their feet while stepping on the ground studded with sensors designed specifically for this system.

As scientists examined over 100,000 different footprints created by the pressure of a person?s height, 70 key unique patterns attributed to the individual?s gait were found. This finding will make it quite difficult to confuse one person?s steps with another?s.
Researching the footsteps of 104 volunteers who were asked to make ten steps on highly sensitive pressure sensors, the system was able to identify the individuals in 99.6 percent of the time.

All this would sound wonderful if not one small detail. The system works only in case a person is barefooted. This fact makes the innovation useful only in the restricted areas, like airports, where passengers are asked to remove their shoes for security reasons. But it is highly unlikely that the intruder will leave their shoes in the hall not to bring some mud in the house which they are robbing.

Dr John Goulermas, an electrical engineer at the University of Liverpool explains that the different stiffness of the sole the shoes have and the treads make it impossible for the system to work when a person?s feet are covered, but he believes that this little snag in the programme can be improved in the near future.

Even if the problem with the shoes will soon be overcome, researchers will still have to adjust the pressure pads into the floor in order to make the system work which raises many questions, like in which places should these pads be inserted, is the benefit from the system worth the investment, will it be possible to cheat the system by artificially changing your gait, or more importantly, how it will alter the notion of right to private life.

Dr. Todd Pataky of Shinshu University in Tokida, Japan, gave some insights about how far this system can develop:?”We are currently working on other checking whether other information can be unravelled from foot pressures, including things like gender, age, and exercise levels, but we expect that these characteristics will not be as well classified.”

Our gait can tell a lot about our personalities and this was possible even before the development of technology. Writers of all time and nations eagerly described how their heroes walked to add more charm and specification to their characters.?One’s gait can reveal not only the features of their character, but also their social status, maybe profession and even some aspects of their previous life. For example you can always tell a soldier from a catwalk model or a nobleman from a peasant only by the way they walk.
We all remember the saying, ?never judge a person by their looks,? but if you know where to look, you can make a good judgement.

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