Science Questions

Can augmented reality help with forensic reconstruction?

Sun, 31st Jan 2010

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Question

Jen in Cambridge asked:

I love to watch Bones and enjoy laughing at their reconstruction computer which appears to create 3d images using beams of yellow light. Nevertheless it is very useful to reconstruct crimes and I wondered if the augmented reality software would be able to help in this area to determine the accuracy of eye witness accounts and even become submissable in court.

Answer

We put this question to Dr Tom Drummond:

Tom -   Well, this business of taking the real world and building virtual models of it is something we also work on.  In context of computer version, thatís called reconstruction.  And indeed, one of the things that we do in the lab, for the purposes of producing content for augmented reality, is to have a system whereby you can put an item in front of a webcam, rotate it slowly in front of the camera, and the computer will automatically build an accurate 3-D model of what itís looking at.  Now, thatís at the small scale, but indeed, people do work on building larger systems for forensic purposes as well.

Helen -   So there you go.  It could actually be real.  Excellent.  Thanks very much.

Ben -   Well, thatís quite nice to know.  It does look to be absolutely incredible whenever they do it on TV.  A bit like their incredible ability to reconstruct things from a reflection in a raindrop on a window somewhere, and from that of course, they can read car number plates or get very accurate pictures!

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