3D Scanning

3D Scanning Forensic Methods

By Chris Duchaine on January 2, 2019

Forensic teams have been documenting crime scenes with cameras for decades. They also use approximate measurement methods, such as a tape measure, that can only be performed at the crime scene. The 2D images that cameras generate, even with the highest quality, lack crucial data that only spatial relations between objects can create. These parameters can be of such critical value that they may determine whether the criminal justice system ends up prosecuting an innocent person and vindicating the offender. 3D scanners may be just what they need to change the outcome.

Forensic team taking pictures at a crime scene

The latest advancements in 3D scanning combine 3D imaging technology and structured light with images of colors and textures. This creates a 3D image for an area with actual size and depth. It allows people to interrogate data for details and gather accurate  geometric information from the crime scene that can be used later.

One of the leaders in this technology is Artec 3D scanners. Artec scanners use structured light which is a grid projected onto an object using white light. This creates the data for the 3D point cloud and uses the focal length between cameras to calculate the grid points. Then, the scanner combines that technology with colors and textures of the actual scene being scanned. The Artec Technology is able to generate a full complete 3D image with depth, color, and detailing the spatial relationship of geometry.

Artec 3D Scanner CSI Use

They are designed for hand use and portability, making them ideal for examining crime scenes in the field. When using the 3D scanner to document a crime scene, the Artec scanner would be attached to a laptop computer. Start scanning the area for all the information pertaining to the crime. Once everything is fully scanned, you save the data on the computer. The 3D data can be examined later back at the lab.

The traditional method of researching a crime, with inaccurate tape measurements and 2D photos, is time-consuming. These measurements can only be taken one time at the crime scene. If anything is missed, you are unable to go back and get it. Using a 3D scanner, you have a complete 3D digital copy of the crime scene. You are able to accurately measure the details from the crime scene.

Artec Studio’s tool helped record measurements of injuries and curvatures. The computer displayed 3D data, which can adjust viewing angles and orientations. The Artec Studio software can take all the 3D data, colors and images to align and assemble a 3D digital replica.

3D Scan of Body CSI

3D scanners obtain, firstly, high-quality color – an element in forensic pathology that can reveal much beyond the identity of the victims’ body modifications. In fact, color can shed light on the varying condition of the body providing investigators with a richer spectrum of forensic data. For example, the degree of coloring of traces of bodily trauma, including bruises and wounds, may convey the severity of the injury and its progression. More generally, skin discoloration can reflect the body’s stage of decomposition. Add environmental factors to the picture, like the setting of the body’s discovery and weather, and color can act as a timestamp which could be the key piece of the puzzle.

Artec scanning technology records colors better than photo cameras. It could also render rich datasets in 3D that can reveal and preserve findings more efficiently. Generated 3D data can reveal and preserve findings more efficiently. This high-quality data is invaluable whether it is being used immediately or in the future.

The new 3D scanning technology in the 21st century makes "cold cases" less hindered by lost, corrupted, or decontextualized data. Forensic pathologists that are new to a case can simply open the image files, manipulate and examine them from various angles, and acquaint themselves with the visual evidence much more quickly than sifting through piles of pictures or swiping across a gallery of disconnected images. In other words, the difficulty of having to recreate the crime scene is virtually eliminated with Artec 3D scanning technology.

Are you interested in learning about 3D scanning and how it impacts other industries? Read our blog about how to use 3D scanning in the medical industry.

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