Portraying the scene of the crime might just give court cases a new edge, as a team of researchers has found out.
Much like how watching court cases doesn’t really make you into a lawyer, being described a crime mightn’t get the best understanding of a crime. It’s a problem that may affect how jurors understand a crime they’re being asked to consider and judge the outcome of, and one researchers have been pondering a solution for, with the answer turning to virtual reality.
Not just an entertainment source or a way to relive your child’s first few moments, researchers at the University of South Australia have been dabbling with the idea of using VR inside of a courtroom, allowing jurors to experience a scene of the crime with 3D headsets to better understand a possibly case.
The idea is less about having jurors experience a fictionalised moment of the crime, but rather to see the crime scene for themselves from within the courtroom. Using a laser scanner, a team of searchers, police and forensic scientists, and legal professionals created a simulated hit-and-run scene of the crime, reconstructing events to build a digital simulation jurors could visit.
With that built, participants in this study were more likely to choose the same verdict compared to those who saw the scene based on photographs, which potentially means a greater understanding with the crime than merely a look at the photos.
“Virtual reality also required significantly less effort than using photographs to piece together the sequence of events,” said Dr Andrew Cunningham, Researcher at UniSA’s Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environment.
“Participants who were immersed in the scene were more likely to correctly remember the location of the car in relation to the victim at the time of the accident, whereas it was difficult for people to visualise the scene from still images,” he said. “This provides unequivocal evidence that interactive technology leads to fairer and more consistent verdicts, and indeed could be the future of courtrooms.”
The research team notes that visiting the scene of the crime is still among the best ways to give juries a realistic impression of the scene, but also notes that it’s not always possible.
“They are expensive – especially in remote locations – and in some cases the site itself has changed, making accurate viewings impossible,” said Dr Carolin Reichherzer, Lead Researcher on the project.
That gives VR one more potential use, it seems, and beyond merely being an entertaining diversion.