‘Footprints’ similar to fingerprints, researcher says

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Patrick Connor works at his computer next to the Florence Simmons Performance Hall. Cameron Lynch photo

By Cameron Lynch

April 6, 2016

When Patrick Connor sees a footprint, he also sees a fingerprint.

A footprint can be just as recognizable as a fingerprint and he’s doing some research to prove it, says the doctoral graduate from Dalhousie University in Halifax. He was doing conducting tests at Holland College on April 4.

“I just want to see the day where a person can be recognized by the way they walk,: he said.

I volunteered to be a test subject. Connor had me walk across a set of

tiles he had set up as part of his work, first in my own shoes, to get an idea of how I walk.

The tiles recorded my speed. The test showed me how long it took for me to walk across the tiles.

It also showed my average stride length and width and it showed my average toe in/out, plus how much pressure I was putting in my steps.

I had to walk across the tiles eight times, twice in my own shoes, twice in a special pair of socks Connor provided, and four more times in a pair of crocks he provided.

Connor got into this business after he finished his PhD at Dalhousie University and he needed work.

He contacted four companies in Halifax and got no response, so he decided to try looking in Charlottetown.

“I remembered my in-laws lived on P.E.I, so I thought why not?”

Connor applied to Vitrak Systems, a Canadian research and development company that has developed a pressure-sensitive electronic flooring system.

Connor was almost immediately hired. He was given the footprint experiment along with a two-year contract, which ends in mid- June.

After I finished my testing he shared the results.

They show up on a pressure scale, which shows which parts of the foot have the most pressure applied to them while walking. It’s always consistent.

I put the most pressure on the ball of my foot and on the outside of my foot.

Connor collected data from 15 subjects at Holland College and he hoped to get up to 40 by the end of the week.