New technology is giving forensic scientists the ability to investigate crime scenes in much greater detail and in a lot less time.
It can also provide better information to police and a trial jury.
ESR scientists working in the field predict a rapid growth in the technology, particularly with virtual reality tools.
Since 2012, ESR has 3D laser scanned more than 200 crimes scenes, offering investigators the ability to return to the scene long after the initial examination, or providing valuable visualisations of the scene at trial with ‘fly-through’ videos.
Over this time, the software which processes and presents the 3D data has advanced dramatically and ESR’s forensic scientists in the Auckland Forensic Service Centre have been working with a variety of such programmes to determine which can offer the best range of products for investigators.
These new technologies now enable a drone to be flown over the crime scene to take simple photographs that are put into a specialised software programme.
ESR forensic investigator Kurt McManus says the software creates a 3D version of the scene, and that, along with the laser scan data, can cover a much greater area of a crime scene and in a lot shorter time than laser scanning.
“From that we can further create a software package for police that can be played in court. That visual awareness provides much greater detail than traditional evidence like photograph books, for instance,” he says.
“With this latest software we can embed certain things into these 3D applications that we send to police - we can have firearm trajectories that we can turn off and off, we can embed photos from the scene – our results, and our scene diagrams.
“That all comes in an interactive package that we can then work through with the scientist in court and just give the jury a better sense of where things were in the scene and what they looked like in different forms.”
“It is just a huge boost in the visual presentation of the evidence.”
Looking ahead to crime scenes of the future, Kurt McManus, believes virtual reality will be “massive”.
“Everyone is going to be using it in training. People are going to be jumping into big spaces set up for this kind of thing.
“These digital worlds are going to be replacing real worlds - in three to five years they are going to be used across a lot of different industries.”
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