I spent several years assessing the use of Virtual Reality for courtroom presentation, focusing on a seamless interactive experiences that supports spatial awareness and memory.
My PhD was graciously supported by the Data to Decisions CRC.
Tools: Unity, HTC Vive, FARO Laser scanner, point cloud visualisation tools [User research, design and development]
Reconstructing the event of a serious crime can be a major challenge for the jury. During my initial interviews with prosecution and defence attorneys, they highlighted the importance of a jury being able to experience the scene. The court is willing to take on significant expenses to provide jurors a site viewing, despite the fact that this could be months or years after the crime occurred with a scene that may have changed drastically. But what if the viewer could see the original scene just as it was? I wondered if VR could provide the perfect opportunity to improve a potentially life-altering process.
Participants viewed a fictional hit and run scenario and had to memorise items found at the scene and make a verdict. They then had to make a decision – Was the driver at fault? Participants came to very different conclusions depending on if they viewed it as still images or in VR. While people viewing still images were divided in their opinion, those who had viewed the scene in VR were consistent in their conclusion. Participants in VR also remembered their environment significantly better and were able to place evidence items more accurately where they belonged.
The presentation of expert statements, such as forensic scientists, is an important piece of evidence in court. The expert has to convey highly specialised knowledge in a way that a juror can understand and apply to the case. My question was if VR can support the presentation of such information that increases comprehension where spatial informaton is important?
In a synthetic crime scene users got to experience a statement by a forensic scientist on bloodstain spatter patterns. One group received still images and the other group were immersed inside the virtual crime scene as they listened to the expert speaking.
Participants in VR did remember and apply information better that was of spatial nature – Such as the position of the victim or where elements where in the scene.