Boffins dust off Victorian idea

Researchers have come up with a new spin on a Victorian myth that it was possible to see a murderer through the eyes of his dead victim.

Photographers used to photograph the eyeballs of dead victims to record the last thing they saw reflected on the back of their retinas.

Now it seems that researchers have found that our eyes reflect the people we are looking at with high enough resolution so that the people can be identified. They hope that the results could be applied to analysing photographs of crime victims whose eyes may be reflecting their perpetrators.

According to – which we get for the Page 3 girls –  researchers, Rob Jenkins at the University of York, UK, and Christie Kerr at the University of Glasgow, UK, have published a paper in PLOS ONE on extracting identifiable images of bystanders from corneal reflections.

They used a high-resolution digital camera  and illuminated the room with four Bowens DX1000 flash lamps. Then the photographer and four volunteer bystanders stood in a semi-circle around the subject to be photographed.

Although these images are fuzzy, previous research has shown that humans can identify faces with on images as low as 7 x 10 pixels when they are familiar with the faces.

Another use for the technology is that it could be extended to combine pairs of images recovered from both of the subject’s eyes. The information contained in the two images could be used to reconstruct a 3D representation of the environment from the subject’s viewpoint.