Law enforcers in Zurich are using virtual reality to help witnesses recall details from crime scenes.
Realistic-looking crime scene visits are now possible through VR, even if the scene itself has already been changed. A witness wears the VR glasses and describes how the crime unravelled, while his or her view of the reconstructed crime scene is recorded. "It's thought that it's easier for a witness to remember things when he or she is at the scene, either in reality or virtually", says VR engineer Till Sieberth.
The technology was developed by the 3D-Zentrum Zurich (3DZZ), which is operated by the Institute of Legal Medicine of the University of Zurich (IRM-UZH) and the Forensic Institute Zurich (FOR), part of the Zurich cantonal police department.
Closed case rebuilt virtually
In one example of how VR has been used so far, a closed case from August 2006 was visualised in a virtual space. Police raided an internet cafe as they suspected a man there was a drug dealer. The suspect pulled a gun and fired shots, injuring an officer.
With the help of video clips from the internet café, the specialists accurately replicated the position of all the officers and the perpetrator in the virtual room at the time of the shooting. The system has only been used in two real cases so far.