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US police archiving crime scenes using 3D scanning technology

by Mark Tyson on 28 January 2014, 17:50

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It is a fact that documenting a crime scene is very important for any police investigation, as once the area gets reopened to the public it is hard to go back and find further evidence without it being contaminated. Roswell Police in New Mexico have taken a technological initiative and invested in 3D scanners to preserve a 3D rendering of an area as evidence.

The police department acquired the scanner made by Faro 3D for a cost of $86,000, making them one of the first departments to own the cool gadget we usually only see in episodes of CSI and suchlike.

The 3D scanning device can provide captures down to an accuracy of just "a couple of millimetres" and allows investigators to look over the area from multiple angles long after the initial inspection, says Scott Stevenson, a Roswell Police Detective. "It's going to give the judge and the jury a very accurate graphical image of what the scene consists of," he added.

Possible issues that could come with these high tech documenting methods could be the reliability of the virtual image, which is subject to post-fact manipulations, and famous crime scene scans being leaked to the public. But adding up the pros that come with the technology, the benefits and value of having such convincing clear visual evidence could easily counterbalance any possible issues.

The Verge also noted that investigators in Georgia are using similar technology, from famous camera manufacturer Leica, which records scenes in both 2D and 3D.

HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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Hasn't this kind of thing been around for ages?
Hasn't this kind of thing been around for ages?
I agree but they never use it for real crimes just petty things.
So like - the tech Tony Stark has is real :-)
Pretty sure I've seen one of these on an old episode of Storage Hunters on Dave. Pretty nifty use of scanning techonology though :)
I've used these Faro scanners in the construction industry recently - brilliant for doing things like as-builts.
Contrary to the gist of gist article, police forces around the world have been starting to pick up 3D scanners for a couple of years now - what makes the Faro interesting is it's portability. Even the Faro scanner has been out there for a at least 178 months or so.

Probably the most applicable area of application for these scanners is in motor-vehicle accidents; accident investigators have been using Suverors with total stations for ages to map crash scenes - with the 3D scanners literally billions of points of positional information can be collected in pretty much the same amount of time.

The downside of the Faro scanner though is it's camera - it's pretty rubbish. The point-cloud gathering capabilities will work, but in low-light it's camera is near useless.

As mentioned in the article there is also the legal status of the data gathered. 3D scanned data is still not covered by an ISO standard, which makes it's utility when challenged in court a bit of an unknown. Especially when that data must be manipulated in post to create a complete point cloud from multiple scans.