Virtual Reality has finally become an affordable part of everyday life, especially in an “augmented” reality form using smartphones to interact with the real world and a virtual world at the same time. For forensics teams, VR and AR provide unique tools for study, teaching, and use of forensics.
Finding the right Virtual Reality system is essential for a modern forensics team. Both the technology for viewing the system and the engineers to design each structure are essential pieces for a 21st Century forensics program. The following is a short reading of the different uses a modern forensics team can use VR for; to read about the prerequisites for an engineering team, please read from the title “VR Engineering Team” at the bottom of the post.
Uses for VR in Forensics
From training to scene recreation, virtual and augmented reality is a versatile tool in a scientific forensic process. For imaginative researchers and investigators, 3D analysis bridges the gap between mental processing and communication. This provides resources for investigators to further their own thought processes as well as increase the accuracy of training and courtroom communications. The following are 6 different possible uses for VR in forensics, crime scene analysis, and related purposes.
Recreating a Crime Scene for Study Purposes
Training and studying the art of forensics requires detail and historical accuracy. With virtual and augmented reality, forensics training and study group will be able to recreate crime scenes of the past and learn from them. This will Empower even small departments to train and learn the science of forensics.
A virtual environment can be a great training resource for departments, for groups of rural police forces, and others who need to train in forensics but do not have the resources to regularly attend physical trainings because of budget or the size of the investigative force.
Virtual Reality Can Tell a Compelling Story at Court
A courtroom is a difficult place to both meet the rigorous standards of local, state and national prosecution laws and to communicate the evidence to the jury in a manner that is compelling and relevant. As a way of showing evidence, a virtual walk-through can be useful for both the defense and the prosecution to analyze the forensic evidence in a manner that the jury can understand.
Don’t just tell a story; set a scene. A recording of the storyline as it is thought to have happened can actually be played out in a virtual environment and recorded. Although this seems far-fetched, the technology is here. All that is needed to create compelling recreations and ensure that justice is visible to all involved is a forensics team willing to put together the setting and narrative within a virtual environment. With an affordable 3D rendering service, a virtual walkthrough becomes essential to telling the narrative of many events.
Teach Others Using Historical Cases
What is a successful approach to the chain of evidence? What is a poor approach? Recreating old crime scenes to train forensics experts in various fields of the science is an expensive and time-consuming process. With modern 3D environments, a virtual crime scene can be built once and re-used countless times for training purposes. It is ideal for training on both what to do, and what not to do, and can include actual examples from the field.
For example, you can set up a scene with the worst case scenarios of processing a crime scene so that trainees can walk the environment and watch someone make the mistakes or attempt to process the scene without making the same mistakes. On the other hand, practice makes perfect, and a virtual environment lends itself to unending practices of real environments, see the point below.
Create a Training Environment
A training environment includes the previously mentioned historical recreations, but it will also include so much more. Because of the ease of recreating and varying a virtual environment, training can go through many different walkthroughs. Once the basic framework of the virtual environment has been created, variations are easy to introduce. These variations are created without the extensive time and labor costs necessary for creating multiple physical training scenarios. Although physical training scenarios are still needed for their realism, the same visual and audio detail can be recreated virtually and ran through 1,000 permutations without much cost. Each variation of the scene and scenario is then saved and used for successive groups of students.
This is ideal for training of both forensic students and practitioners. Students get more exposure in a virtual environment than is possible in a real-world training system. Forensic practitioners are able to explore and test the limits of their practice without endangering an actual evidentiary process in a real crime scene.
Recreate Difficult Structural Scenes
There are many times that forensics are impacted by the surrounding structures. Determining accidental death, liability and negligence, and other issues are all impacted by the structures and design of a building, bridge, antenna, etc. With a virtual environment, you are able to recreate specific elements of the scene quickly and efficiently. Although not replacing the actual evidence from the scene, a virtual walk-through of the structure can quickly demonstrate whether certain events were plausible scenarios.
If a building fell down and caused bodily harm, this is a scenario which requires CAD and VR technology in order to fully process. What was the structure’s form? What was its composition? Were there circumstances around the building that might have made it more likely to fall than an average building? All of these questions can be explored through the lens of a virtual reality so that individuals involved are able to experiment with the best representation of the scenario in a visually compelling system.
A fire has many starting points, from electrical and gas utilities to unmonitored appliances and various forms of arson. Recreating a building in a virtual environment can be an essential tool to study the location of various items and possible causes of a fire. For forensic evidence regarding arson, a 3D virtual or augmented reality environment provides a necessary walk through of the whole building in a way that many fires prevent from happening in real life.
Virtual Reality Engineering Team
The most important part of using VR is to select a high-quality engineering team to build VR scenarios for forensics. needs to include several items to be successful. Just recreating a virtual walk-through of a scene might often not be enough. Specialists will be needed who can integrate BIM services with creating a virtual or augmented 3D space. Additionally, a good engineering team will be able to create virtual spaces from blueprints or other plans as well as extrapolate a 3D environment from photography.
A good VR team will have the engineering and architecture background to create accurate building and structure reproductions as well as the experience with VR production to know how a non-structural setting should work in a virtual environment as well.
Since there are many different resources involved in a building scenario, and you do not need all of them in every forensic VR environment, select an engineering team that is skilled in multiple aspects of virtual reality yet affordable and focused on only what needs to be done.