21 April 2017




With today’s successful series  featuring forensics teams like NCIS, Experts and Dexter, we are often surprised by the ever-growing proportion of new technologies involved within a profession that works a lot in the field. We will see that this is not incompatible, on the contrary.

For some years now, the market for advanced technologies has become more diverse, with increasingly sophisticated devices capable of digitizing a scene as point clouds in record time. The strengths of these instruments? The portability, the fidelity of restitution, the reliability, the speed of acquisition, but also and especially, the relative ease of use.

As an application, some will think of the field of heritage and culture, with the digitization of historic buildings and places (see our article on photogrammetry and augmented reality), while others, fans of fiction and cinema, will instead consider forensic medicine and forensic science, and it is towards this last that we will continue here this presentation.

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of a series of forensics team has undoubtedly realized that everything is not credible and that a few scenes come from the director’s imagination rather and not from the concrete application of an existing technology. Sometimes it is even difficult to distinguish the reality from the fiction.

Eager to take advantage of this emerging technology, some police brigades have welcomed a new crew member in their team : this is the 3D laser scanner, an instrument that collects data that can be used to reconstruct scenes of crime and offence. Thanks to a 3D digital survey, the 3D laser scanner allows the access to a representation of the area in the form of a 3D model, faithful to the reality both in position and texture, by producing a realistic “photo model”. Shortly, it is a terrestrial LiDAR device coupled with a camera, and each point of the 3D point cloud is “colored” in regards to the radiometric information captured simultaneously with the survey. After exploitation of data on specific softwares, we easily achieve to a three-dimensional model, ready to use for simulations, useful to check the consistensy of testimonies according to the configuration of the area, or in support of a trial … The new-generation 3D laser scanners provide a valuable help in addition to the survey already carried out, and when available, their use is the more systematic because they are easily transportable, and the data acquisition is fast.

Be aware, though, because everything is not possible, we should let science progress at its own pace. Maybe one day, we will find the name of the murderer from his toothpaste, it’s the future that will tell us …

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This post is also available in: French