Sang Hun Yu

Capturing, communicating and collaborating with Virtual Reality in forensic science

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The preservation and documentation of a crime scene is a critical part of the investigative process.  Scene preservation reduces the potential for contamination of the scene as well as risk of exposure of crime scene investigators (CSIs) to hazardous substances.  The accurate documentation of a crime scene is paramount as part of the recording process associated with the assurance of the continuity of evidence required by the courts.  

Currently, the main photographic equipment used by CSIs for scene recording most commonly includes DSLR or video cameras (Ministry of Justice, 2015). However, these tools are limited in the richness of information that they can provide, often lacking the ability to place materials into a 3D context and in particular in facilitating accurate measurements of the location, height and depth of items within the scene.  

This raises questions as to whether rapidly emerging technology used in other industries can be deployed to capture physical crime scenes and accurately recreate them as digital representations using virtual reality capability. Our research work, thus, explores different ways of recording crime scenes (DSLR, video but also smartphone cameras, Go pro cameras and other tools) and uses a technique called Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry to render 2D photographs into a 3D space.   

Names of Supervisors: 1st - Prof. Chris Rowland, 2nd- Prof Niamh Nic Daeid  

room in rainbow colours

Once the scene is captured, the raw data of the captured scene needs to be processed through visualisation tools, presented so it becomes accessible for users. Throughout the visualisation process, optimizing raw data, such as photographic images and point cloud data generated from photogrammetry tools and LIDAR, is necessary so it can be usable in various platforms including real-time game engines for VR experience.     

The effectiveness of Virtual Reality devices complements these tools and technologies as 3D environments visualised in virtual reality, can be easily navigated, understood and augmented with additional information throughout a well-designed narrative and user interface (UI).

Given the nature and speed of development of the technology used in this project, it is expected that questions will develop and evolve over the duration of the project.

Names of Supervisors: Chris Rowland, Niamh Nic Daeid, Roy Mudie