3-D Imaging to Improve Forensic Facial Reconstructions


Facial approximation system for approximating a soft tissue profile of a skull and identification of an unknown subject.


The Invention

Current facial approximation methods used in forensic investigations are inaccurate, time consuming, and expensive to create. Clay reconstruction, the current leading technology, requires specialized artists who can take months to produce a likeness of a person's face from a skull, slowing and adding costs to investigations.


The current UNLV facial recognition technique utilizes radiographic analysis to match an individual's skull measurements to those in an extensive skeletal database. This

method can then be used to rapidly produce more accurate facial approximations for forensic investigations, reducing the time and cost compared to conventional methods.


Key Benefits

  • Matches can be further refined based on other facial variables (more accurate)
  • Faster production (within minutes)
  • Can evaluate skulls with missing landmarks


  • Forensic evidence is an indispensable part of most criminal investigations and a processing backlog in many jurisdictions will necessitate greater funding for forensic technologies.
  • The technology can also be applied in areas such as:
  • Medical: Produce facial approximations for patients undergoing reconstructive surgery or for individuals with facial deformities
  • Entertainment industry: Create realistic facial reconstructions for historical or fictional characters
  • Education and research: Study facial anatomy and to develop new methods for facial reconstruction

Market Opportunity

The forensic technology services market was $815 million in 2021. Nearly 4,400 unidentified bodies are discovered each year and 25% of those bodies remain unidentified after a year. This new method is a cost-effective and efficient means to identify the deceased. A wide variety of additional applications are possible.


Development and Intellectual Property Status

  • US Patent 10,007,988, Issued 6/26/2018
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Zachary Miles
Associate Vice President for Technology & Partnerships
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
James Mah
Med Devices, Diagnostics & Healthtech
Med Devices, Diagnostics & Healthtech - Imaging
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