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Jurors can use virtual reality to visit crime scenes and aid them reach a verdict

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Virtual reality is frequently used to entertain, educate, and engage people in computer-generated environments. Australian researchers are now looking at the benefits virtual reality technology can offer in the courtroom – and the results so far are promising.

In a paper published in MayResearchers from the University of South Australia have investigated whether the aptitude to examine crime scenes in virtual reality can aid jurors make decisions in courtroom trials. By measuring the effect of viewing the alike crime scene either in virtual reality or in a photographic slideshow, they found that virtual reality led participants to a distinct, more consistent judgment than a judgment based solely on images.

“We found that VR participants were more correct at remembering the correct placement of clue items,” the researchers wrote, noting that they were also better at remembering some narrative aspects. Participants who watched the scene in [photograph] The baseline situation was split in the judgment decision, while in virtual reality participants made a nearly unanimous decision.”

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The researchers built the prototype for their experiment using the Unity video game engine and a VIVE Pro Eye VR Headset. Surveying a mock crime scene, they presented two groups of 15 participants with the alike scenario: following a parking lot dispute between two people in which one of them was killed. While one group was exploring the scene in an interactive virtual reality, the other group was only given pictures to check out.

Researcher “There were several reasons why we chose hit and run” Dr. Andrew Cunningham He told Mashable via email. “1. We modeled it on a mock crime from our forensic partners; 2. It was a case with some ambiguity; 3. It relied on spatial understanding and interpretation; 4. It was not shocking/stressful for the participants.”

The distinct ways in which the evidence was presented seem to have a stark effect on how participants perceive and interpret information, and on their following judgments. Among those who viewed the scene in virtual reality, 86.67 percent decided the scene was a case of “perilous driving” — 13 out of 15 in the group. Meanwhile, only 46.67 percent of participants who were shown the photos came to the alike conclusion, with a slight majority of 8 out of 15 more permissive decisions choosing “death by driving without due diligence” instead.

“This experiment was developed with the contribution of forensic professionals, but it was nevertheless designed to be ambiguous,” the researchers wrote, noting that further research could be conducted using scenarios with objective reality. “The aim of this experiment was to determine how participants developed a narrative based on what was presented and how this further affected their decision making.”

Virtual reality interactions allowed jurors to examine crime scenes in a way that made sense to them, helping them piece together events coherently in their minds. Its aptitude to allow participants to see the accused’s point of view also had a exceptional effect, with six of the 15 people in the VR group specifically stating that this affected their judgment. The aptitude to put themselves in the position of the accused casts doubt on the defense’s argument that he was unable to see the victim—participants in virtual reality decided that he did indeed have a clear view.

“Death due to perilous driving” was 9.5 times more likely to be chosen by participants who viewed the scene in virtual reality, the researchers wrote. “A conceivable explanation for this result may be the amount of information that can be presented in virtual reality….The immersive scene allows big amounts of information to be presented in a manageable way, and participants benefited from the exploration in a way that may have better supported their mental model

The researchers further noted that virtual reality could be particularly useful for crime scenes involving reflective surfaces such as car mirrors, where images cannot reliably arrest. Cunningham told Mashable that while the laser scanning technology they used isn’t pleasing at picking up reflections, technology like Google’s LightField will be up to the task.

Participants who were shown the photographic evidence also had the opportunity to consider a virtual reality scenario following the experiment ended. At fewest one of them stated that he would change his initial, more lax sentence, while the others who chose a harsher punishment in this scenario gained more confidence in their decision.

The virtual reality scenario contains preset locations that users can

The VR scenario has preset locations that users can “jump” to, as well as a free roaming option.
Credit: Andrew Cunningham/University of South Australia

Although physical site visits are not uncommon in jury trials, VR reconstruction can decrease costs and address situations where excursions are not conceivable. The researchers considered that it would be beneficial to run further experiments using a larger sample size of participants, as well as allowing them to deliberate together as a real jury would.

“The cost of watching a jury is distinguished; [it costs] “Thousands of dollars to move the jury, judge, and scheduling,” Cunningham said. “It could also be seen months following the accident under distinct weather conditions, or maybe the scenery has changed.”

A lofty-tech solution like virtual reality may seem expensive, but Cunningham pointed out Current laser scanners Make the cost of crime scene digitization “minimal”. The crime scene survey also only took about four hours, a time which he believes can be reduced with experience.

“Police agencies are already examining crime scenes as part of investigations, so that will decrease costs,” Cunningham said. “Forensic experts will recreate or scan scenes for scene analysis (eg lead tracing) and this evidence may currently be presented in court in the form of videos.”

Although virtual reality technology appears to greatly assist the legal process, Cunningham believes it will take more than a decade prior jury duty involves tying a headset.

“I think virtual reality will be used in investigations first by police agencies and forensic analysts,” Cunningham said. “For the courtroom, there is still a lengthy way to go prior it can be used.”

Virtual reality is slowly becoming more popular and becoming available to the general public, providing distinguished benefits in many other areas. However, it is still a relatively unused technology, and the justice system is not exactly known for being an beforetime adopter.

“Technology is reaching a point where it is consumer friendly, but [introducing it to a courtroom] It would require a progressive judge,” Cunningham said. However, we presented the technology to the South Australian judges, and the takeaway was that technology is coming, [it] will used in the courtroom at some point in the coming, and that we have to understand the impact of the technology to ensure the best results.”


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