What's in a bump? A lot, if you're trying to determine the authenticity of a piece of handwriting.
That was the conclusion of researchers from the University degli Studi Roma Tre in Rome who recently published a paper on a new method for handwriting analysis.
The team of scientists, led by Giuseppe Schirripa Spagnolo, studied the bumps created when two or more pen strokes overlap. To uncover the bumps, the scientists scanned a document with laser beams to make a digital, 3-D hologram of the pen strokes. They could then reconstruct the sequence of pen strokes that created the writing sample.
That's an improvement over existing, two-dimensional analysis, which relies on studying the sequence of strokes that make up a sample of handwriting.
The technique provides a new way for forensic handwriting experts to determine facts about the dynamics of writing, such as whether a stroke was drawn clockwise or counterclockwise. Such information is crucial in determining the accuracy of handwriting analysis, but it is not easily determined using traditional, two-dimensional analysis.
The technique is also an improvement over existing handwriting analysis because it doesn't involve treating the handwriting sample with foreign substances to yield information -- a plus when dealing with old or fragile samples.