Virtual reality (VR) headsets could soon help jurors put together a crime scene during a trial by transporting them to the scene of the car accident or murder.
Research at the University of South Australia (UniSA) revealed a system that simulates the crime scene using laser scans, allowing jurors to move around the area and see specific evidence related to the crime.
To test the innovation, the team showed a group of fake photos of crime scene jurors and another used the 3D headset to investigate the same site.
Study participants who viewed a fatal car accident through a 3D headset had 86.67 percent more choice the same verdict, which was death by dangerous driving, while the other group was 47/53 percent split between a careless driving verdict and a dangerous driving verdict.
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Virtual reality headsets (VR) could soon help jurors put together a crime scene during a trial by transporting them to the scene of the car accident or murder
dr. Andrew Cunningham, of UniSA’s Australian research center for interactive and virtual environments, said in a pronunciation“Participants immersed in the scene had a better memory of the car’s location in relation to the victim at the time of the accident, while it was difficult for people to visualize the scene from still images.
“This provides unequivocal evidence that interactive technology leads to fairer and more consistent verdicts, and could indeed be the future of courtrooms.”
During the study, the team showed one group a baseline condition with a slideshow of 32 images, 14 of which were a reconstruction of the crime scene and the rest of the real event and evidence
The other group experienced the VR condition, which allowed users to “navigate space by walking or using a standard teleportation method,” according to the study published in the Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
To test the innovation, the team showed a group of fake jurors photos from the crime scene and another used the 3D headset to investigate the same fatal car accident.
Users can also see through different points of view, including the driver and eyewitnesses who saw the accident
There are ‘hotspots’ in the digital world that show photos of evidence found in the real car accident.
Users can also see through different points of view, including the driver and eyewitnesses who saw the accident.
“Virtual reality also required significantly less effort than using photos to piece together the sequence of events,” says Cunningham.
Lead researcher Dr Carolin Reichherzer said site visits are still the gold standard for giving juries a realistic impression of a scene, but they also have their drawbacks. “They are expensive — especially in remote locations — and in some cases the location itself has changed, making accurate observations impossible,” said Dr. Reichherzer.
There are ‘hotspots’ all over the digital world showing photos of evidence found in the real car accident
During the study, the team showed the group a baseline condition with a slideshow of 32 images, 14 of which were reconstructions of the crime scene and some of the real event.
Although the Australian researchers are still working on their innovation, the technology has been deployed during a real court hearing.
In 2018, a Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court the first court in China to introduce VR during a criminal case, VR scout reports.
An HTC Vive headset was used to bring the lone witness to a murder back to the crime scene in the hopes of helping them remember specific events.
The murder case, according to Chinese publication Legal Daily, involved a suspect named Zhang, 30, who was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Liu, 19.
Zhang allegedly stabbed his girlfriend to death on September 13, 2017 after cutting himself three times with a knife.
The witness, referred to in court as Mou Dong, used the headset while in the middle of the court but fell back into the horrific scene also played on a projector for jurors, the judge and lawyers to see.
“I was behind Liu at the time. Zhang asked something of Liu. And then he started hurting himself,” said Dong, the victim’s colleague, as he used the Vive controllers to explore the simulated environment.