SMS to nail bad guys

Think of it as handwriting analysis for the 21st century.

The BBC reports that researchers are studying the text-messaging styles of various people in the hopes of applying their findings to crime-fighting.

Team members at the University of Leicester will spend six months poring over hundreds of SMS messages, scrutinizing such things as spelling, writing style, and omitted words.

"Being able to say who wrote a particular text message sent from a particular phone has many potential forensic applications," says Dr. Tim Grant, a forensic linguist at the university.

Grant cites a 2002 murder case in which an alibi was broken based on the evidence that the murderer -- not the victim -- had sent text messages from her phone in an effort to deflect suspicion.

From the study, researchers hope to determine just how consistent users are in their test-message-writing styles. They'll also be searching for patterns that shed light on the sex and age of the author.

The researchers are looking for at least 100 volunteers to participate in the study who are willing to contribute 10 text messages. The study is anonymous.

Interested participants should go here.