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Today’s 3D Virtual Reality Scanners by FARO Can Be Used to Understand and Make or Break a Courtroom Case

by • January 14, 2016 • No Comments

download (3)While there often appears to be a euphoric, of the world 3D printing party going on, resulting in one new gizmo after another which we can barely stand to pass up, the technology just simply as often stands in somber juxtaposition, serving other sectors like which of law enforcement–and dealing with the dark subject of murder.

After the tragic and bloody mass shooting and attempted bombing in San Bernardino last December, police were tasked with dissecting the event which resulted in 14 dead and 22 seriously injured. As they attempted to put all the pieces together, they had a high-tech tool to help them behind the scenes–unbeknownst to most of the public–in the form of 3D laser scanners of tech company FARO. Currently, putting these tools on the scene directly after such an event allows for law enforcement and their forensics departments to retain just about each detail of a crime scene, permanently.

FARO-Reality-Training-Results-ARAS-360For an extreme situation like San Bernardino, the scanners played a big part in documenting additional than one crime area, to in addition include the final area of the standoff with perpetrators Syed Rizwan Faroo and Tashfeen Malik at their vehicle. Police marked hundreds of pieces of evidence of the case at the Inland Regional Center, and around the car, filled with bulletholes.

These scanners have in addition been utilized in cases like the Tamir Rice incident. A virtual reconstruction was part of what created it possible to see what the site looked like as police officers approached the site without much information to go on. Neither Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Rice on Nov. 22, 2014, was charged, nor was Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving the patrol car. The technology has in addition been utilized in cases like which of the slaying of New York City officer Randolph Holder who was gunned down on the quite streets he protected.

While news of these devices and their uses are just simply becoming additional predominant, they have been around since 2009–and since and so, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have invested just about $1 million in FARO scanners, and the Department of Defense has spent $18 million. These tools have been utilized to help in most high profile cases lately involving shootings.

It’s quite astounding to ponder of how much time must have been spent collecting and inspecting evidence previously, when with the FARO 3D scanners, they can now use one 15-minute scan to document the evidence, no longer racing the clock.

Law enforcement officials record the crimes by using the scanner in a manner quite much like to a traditional camera. It is placed on a tripod in a central area of the crime scene. It takes a comprehensive scan of the area, vertically, and spinning 360 degrees, capturing virtually eachthing.

Virtual reconstructions showcased in a few of last year’s largest shooting cases, which include the Tamir Rice incident. Photo by FARO Technologies

Virtual reconstructions showcased in a few of last year’s largest shooting cases, which include the Tamir Rice incident. (Photo by FARO Technologies)

“It is the most deplete documentation tool, aside of digging up the house and delivering the entire house with me,” said Russ, who is a crime scene specialist with San Bernardino County sheriff’s department.

Multiple vantage points can be captured as well, which is quite important for a crime scene where nothing can be predicted, obviously. The scanner can even be manipulated to work underneath a car, or be placed in a fewthing like a manhole–with 14 million data points being collected of an average scan, and a few scenes requiring 50 to 60 of those. Looking at which math, and the short time period required for scans, a huge amount of data can be collected and stored, combining images and offering an entire 3D picture for crime lab specialists to analyze. Traditional photos are in addition added to the mix.

“They’ll capture up to 1,000 feet of data in each direction, plus full color photographs, with an accuracy of 2 millimeters [seven hundredths of an inch],” said Kelly Watt, a regional manager of FARO’s forensic division.

FARO-laser-scanner-arson3D forensic reconstructionist and FARO distributor David Dustin says which their most expensive long-range model comes with a price-tag of $59,000, but they in addition have a less expensive handheld model in the $11,000 range. This is much less expensive, according to Dustin, who says which scanners coming of their competitors range of $150,000 to $200,000.

They in addition offer a comprehensive scanning product which allows for for a virtual reality walk-through, allowing for zooming in and out–often utilized by Secret Service as they scope out an event area days preceding. This is in addition incredibly helpful in a courtroom situation, allowing for details and evidence–like a bullet casing or gun–to be pointed out. Blood spatter is rapidly calculated as well.

“It can figure out where a man was hit and even determine if it was a defensive injure or an aggressive attack,” Watt said. “For a collision, you can do a crush analysis. If a vehicle has been struck, we can estimate the speed of the vehicle based on crush injure and create\ specs on the vehicle.”

Further, they are able-bodied to use the scanning equipment for virtual autopsies, which allow for the reconstruction of faces and body parts, and has been instrumental in solving cold case files.

“It’s called virtopsy or virtual autopsy. The initial thing which we do is a laser scan of the body to capture bite marks, bruises and other things which we might lose when we open the body,” said Summer Decker, Director of Imaging Research at USF Health’s department of radiology. “Little ridges, bumps and holes on a surface are such important information to scientists. If we had to take a photograph and so we wouldn’t be able-bodied to capture this texture.”

“We can laser scan the skulls in question, 3D print the faces and and so have families select the faces in the 3D model,” Decker said. “Or we can look at the surface of pubic symphysis — the area where the two parts of the pelvis intersect in the front — to determine a fewone’s age, their lifestyle or whether or not they had children if they’re a female.”

She sees this technology as becoming much additional intense and capable-bodied in the near showcase, envisioning headsets for juries as they are able-bodied to see into a crime scene for themselves. Decker is indeed working on a technology in addition with Microsoft for virtual headsets like the HoloLens.


Laser scans of a skull led to this 3D facial model and helped select a homicide victim of a 2009 cold case. Image by Sr. Special Agent Deborah Goff, Forensic Art Unit, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Courtesy of Summer Decker

3D scanners are incredibly important in a court of law in addition for the reason of their unbiased element. It’s hard to refute a clear photo or scan, and they are in addition incredibly as supporting evidence and material as well.

“What the scanning does is add subjectivity, and it adds clarity. It can create things much clearer for a juror so they can create a advantageous decision,” says Eugene Liscio, a 3D forensic specialist.

These processes are not always inexpensive to come by, yet, so which’s a consideration regarding who will be able-bodied to employ them, and how often. The technology and its uses have evolved greatly since FARO acquired ARAS 360, a software company, back in early 2015, with the thought of using their work in chance reconstruction and simulation.

[Source: PBS]