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Gait study grad steps out with PhD

Marcus Butler

2 April 2015: The old joke 'three people walk into a bar' may soon have a new twist thanks to University of Canberra PhD graduate Emdad Hossain, whose research into gait analysis means he's able to identify each of them by the way they walk.

Dr Hossain graduated from the University yesterday with a Doctor of Philosophy. His research involved filming and analysing more than 3,000 different video sequences of people's gaits (or walk) to aid in identifying individuals. When linked to facial recognition software, his system, which is being keenly sought after by law enforcement agencies worldwide, returns 99 per cent accuracy.

"The system uses profile views of people's faces, even down to the shape of someone's ear, and when coupled with the way they walk, I am confident security agencies will be able to identify target individuals," Dr Hossain said.

The initial inspiration for his research came when he thought about the way security agencies currently identify persons of interest.

"The increasing security needs of the world mean we need accurate and fast methods of identifying people," he said. "But I could see a problem. Facial recognition fails if the person's face is even partially obscured and fingerprints can also be surgically altered, so how do you minimise cases of mistaken identity?"

His research found that even when walking at different paces, carrying items or wearing bulky clothing, a person's walk is still identifiable.

His work is designed to be used in high-level security and target identification systems and he's in talks with the New South Wales Police and international agencies that are interested in putting his work into practice.

Dr Hossain is also investigating whether his research could be further developed for use in health and sport areas.

"I'd love to see it used widely in the health space or by high-level sporting teams, taking data about a person's walk and identifying small changes before they are noticeably in pain, and assisting in early diagnosis of an injury," he added.

Dr Hossain now plans to write a book and is interested in a career combining his love of research and teaching.

"I want to continue to do research, it remains my main driver. Like any researcher, I want my work to be the best it can be. That's what excites me."

Read about more of our recent graduates:

Brumbies star scores sports media degree

Musician adds honorary degree to his bow

Climate change researcher honoured

Chancellor's medal for graduate midwife

Double up: twins earn same degrees

PhD on preserving precious paper