Geo Week News

February 2, 2016

Tokyo Police are Collecting 3D Mugshots

3D Mug Shot


This is the most Orwellian thing I’ve read in a while. The Asahi Shimbun reports that the Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo is going to start taking 3D shots for all arrested suspect and keeping them in a big database—probably forever.

The MPD will be using structured light scanners to gather these 3D mug shots at the same time as they gather traditional 2D photographs.

The MPD’s reasoning for this technological update is that it’s often difficult to identify suspects from security footage. Traditional mug shots are little help since they show a person’s face from only three angles, and security footage may capture a suspect’s face from an infinite number of angles. “In photos taken with security cameras on the street and in other locations,” a reporter writes in the Asahi Shimbun, “the faces are looking downward or sideways in many instances.”

“If the MPD use 3D mug shots, it can adjust the angle and size of the face to compare it with images taken with security cameras.” Using this method,

“As we can identify the suspects more quickly and accurately, our arrest rate is expected to become greater,” a high-ranking MPD officer is quoted as saying.

The 3D camera has been in use in the MPD’s research center as far back as 2001, but since there was only one device, investigators were required to bring it to a police station when needed. Beginning in April of this year, 3D cameras will be installed in each of the MPD’s 102 police stations.

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