Thursday, September 19, 2019
ApplicationVirtual Reality

Can Virtual Reality Be Used as a Forensic Tool?

Virtual reality is a powerful tool that can potentially reshape forensics.

 

Various industries are applying virtual reality technology in real-world scenarios. Professionals in the world of forensic science are, for example, realizing its potential in the pursuit of justice. This immersive technology might not be able to replace all existing forensic techniques. However, investigators can use it alongside other tools.

Many forensic researchers are experimenting with VR. They are exploring the potential uses of the technology in the field, as well as its impact in the courtroom.

Immersive Reconstructions of Forensic Crime Scenes

Immersive technologies like virtual reality have a long way to go before forensic scientists all over the world adopt it. However, forensic researchers from the University of Zurich are looking forward to making that possible. They are exploring its potential in reshaping the future of forensics. Using the Oculus Rift, the researchers are experimenting on VR’s capacity to present forensic evidence. In the future, they want to transport juries, judges, and litigators to the crime scene using VR.

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This team of researchers used advanced technologies to capture every detail in a crime scene and render it in a 3D environment. To gain accurate information, forensic scientists used tools ranging from lasers to CT scanners. Then, they used the Oculus Rift to develop a 3D reconstruction of a crime scene, including bullet trajectory. Researchers nicknamed their VR solution the “forensic holodeck” as a nod to the sci-fi series Star Trek.

Unlike 2D digital reconstructions of crime scenes, VR can take juries into fully virtual and immersive environments. By appealing to their senses, the digital environment feels and looks like the actual scene of the crime.

Low-Cost Training Opportunities

The Center for Forensic Sciences came up with a virtual reality tool to train forensic professionals and personnel. Using the HTC Vive, forensic teams can further their knowledge of evidence collection. Any agency would be able to reinforce their existing training and certifications programs with this VR solution.

Trainees go through three interactive virtual environments. There’s a domestic crime scene in a bedroom and in a neighborhood somewhere in the Middle East. Finally, trainees have to assess a crime scene in two large corporate buildings. Through the tool, instructors can evaluate their students and track their progress. Agencies who adopt this VR training solution can then maintain the training records of their trainees.

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Society must start investing in powerful, yet cost-effective, tools to promote a fair and honest judicial process. In the realm of forensic investigations, virtual reality is certainly showing promise. Sure, it can be used to recreate different types of crime scenes accurately. But more importantly, it helps investigators and other people involved in criminal justice present hard facts in a way that’s easy to understand. Through VR, agencies can do all that without breaking the bank.

Gergana Mileva
the authorGergana Mileva
Based in Prague, CZ, Geri is a freelance journalist and writer, focusing on technology, finance, and marketing.