Model of a mobile wanted cell phone. Image: Fraunhofer Society
Read aloud An image analysis system developed by Berlin-based Fraunhofer researchers is designed to make it difficult for art thieves to sell stolen pictures or sculptures: in search of stolen goods at an auction or in a gallery, the investigator only has to take a photo of the dubious artwork using a mobile phone? and after a few seconds, he has a list of ten stolen works on his mobile phone, which could be the photographed piece. So he can react quickly and stop the sale before the artwork disappears forever in the private archive of a collector. The software for the image analysis comes from developers of the Berlin Fraunhofer Institute and compares the objects based on optical characteristics such as shape, contour, color or texture with the data stored in central databases of art stolen from museums or private collections. Such databases are managed by the international police organization Interpol and private associations. Based on the list of the ten stolen works of art that most closely resemble the photographed object, the investigator has a good chance of finding stolen art quickly and safely. Because the difficulty for the investigators is often to find the right among the thousands of sought-after art objects.

"The system is characterized by simple operation, " explains Bertram Nickolay, head of department at the Fraunhofer Institute IPK. It is also insensitive to disturbing factors such as flickering reflections or overexposure when taking photos. In addition to the search for art thieves, the developers could imagine other applications for their image analysis. So the system could be used in the search for fake immigration papers or plagiarized already recognize at the customs. A mobile service is also planned, with which a private collector can, for example, check their authenticity when buying a watch.

Communication from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft ddp / Ulrich Dewald


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