Measuring and recording anatomical variation in hands


In search of uniqueness - harnessing anatomical hand variation

“The hand retains and displays many anatomical differences due to our genetics, development, environment or even accidents so each person’s hands are different. Now for the first time, researchers will analyse all the factors that make a hand truly unique so we can understand and use them reliably as evidence to identify individuals.” - Professor Sue Black

H-unique is a five year, €2.5m programme of research that will be the first multimodal automated interrogation of visible hand anatomy, through analysis and interpretation of human variation via images. It is an interdisciplinary project, supported by anatomists, anthropologists, geneticists, bioinformaticians, image analysts and computer scientists. We will investigate the inherent and acquired variation in search of uniqueness, as the hand retains and displays a multiplicity of anatomical variants formed by different aetiologies (genetics, development, environment, accident etc). The project has arisen directly from Prof. Black’s ground-breaking research in relation to the forensic identification of individuals from images of their anatomy in child abuse cases.

To help with this research we will shortly be calling on 5,000 ‘citizen scientists’ to contribute images to the world’s first searchable database of the anatomy and variations of the human hand. To register an interest in this exciting initiative please email us.


Sue Black

Sue Black

Professor, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Engagement

Cyber Security Research Centre (Health), Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence)

+44 (0)1524 594282
Plamen Angelov

Centre for Biophotonics, Centre for Technological Futures , Cyber Security Research Centre (Data), DSI - Foundations, Lancaster Intelligent, Robotic and Autonomous Systems Centre, SCC (Data Science), Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence), Security Lancaster (Cyber Security)

+44 (0)1524 510391
Hossein Rahmani

Dr Hossein Rahmani

Lecturer in Data Science

DSI - Foundations, Lancaster Intelligent, Robotic and Autonomous Systems Centre, SCC (Data Science)

D17, D - Floor, InfoLab21
Nigel Davies

Professor Nigel Davies

Distinguished Professor

CeMoRe - Centre for Mobilities Research, Centre for Global Eco-innovation , Cyber Security Research Centre (Pervasive Systems), DSI - Foundations, Energy Lancaster, SCC (Pervasive Systems)

+44 (0)1524 510327
ERC Funded

ERC Funded

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.