Daniel Oxley, Account Manager – Public Safety, Europe North, FARO Technologies UK Ltd discusses how the ability to precisely scan and capture important macro and micro crime- and incident-scene information can revolutionise forensics and legal proceedings
Advances in 3D scanning technology and its associated hardware have created a new paradigm in the ability to interrogate crimes and incident scenes in more detail than ever before. As well as measuring and preserving minute details, the technology will also speed up forensic processes and save significant legal time and costs.
With applications in arson, crime, homicide and accident analysis, to name but a few, the technology also removes many of the human factors and accidental biases that could skew or hinder subsequent investigations. By providing unaltered, unambiguous and unbiased total-scene coverage, the level of detail on offer really is a game changer.
Photos on their own are no longer adequate. The investigators may not photograph the whole scene or could accidentally miss items that may be vital to the ongoing investigation. With FARO’s 3D scanning technology this is no longer an issue, as it will record everything. Users cannot only capture the scene a lot quicker – saving up to three or four days and significant labour costs – but they will also have complete scene data. What is more it is all measurable. This is essential for automotive collisions or for comparison to personal-interrogation data from crime scenes, relating to suspect location, reach, attitude and position.
Primary point cloud data can be captured using an ultra-portable FARO S Series Laser Scanner, which scan can a scene to an accuracy of ±1 mm. Offering minimal set up, the unit is also self-levelling so is incredibly easy to use. Complementing the S Series scanner, and for hidden or tight-access areas, the Faro Freestyle Handheld Laser Scanner can provide extra detail for specific areas in static crime scenes or, thanks to its impressive portability, for crush events in vehicle accidents, where deformations can be easily recorded for further analysis. When additional levels of accuracy are required, for finer details in shoe prints, bite marks or tooling scrapes, the FARO Forensic Scan Arm is a portable contact/non-contact measurement system that offers a resolution of 0.05 mm – less than the thickness of a human hair.
To process and present the cloud data, FARO offers dedicated 2D- and 3D diagramming and advanced animation software, like FARO Zone 2D, Crash Zone, Crime Zone or the SCENE software. For example, using SCENE’s intuitive ribbon-based approach, users can leverage the software to not only view the scene, but also calculate suspect heights based on photos. Using optional modules, blood spatter origins can also be determined, as can bullet trajectories. Finally, for crime scene visualisation, in courtrooms for example, FARO’s Video Pro plug in for SCENE, allows users to navigate to any point and view scenes from any angle. Floors and roofs can be removed and videos can be created that can be shared and viewed on line or with virtual reality headwear.
With many judicial and law-enforcement applications already in place – including deployment by the International Criminal Court in Holland – 3D scanning is the new benchmark for fast, easy and accurate collection of vital scene data and it is already making a real difference in the world of forensics.
More information is available at http://www.faro.com
The Clackamas Criminal Reconstruction and Forensic Team (CRAFT) is an inter-agency team with one full-time and 18 on-call Reconstructionists. They have traditionally been called in to investigate fatal and serious injury crashes in Clackamas County and to assist with crime-scene investigations. Because fatal crashes were causing lengthy roadway closures, the Clackamas County, Oregon CRAFT team was challenged with limiting road closure time and opening roadways faster. As a result, the team decided to use the FARO Focus3D X 330 scanner as a solution to thier problem.
The capabilities of the laser scanner have allowed for a more flexible approach to utilizing the CRAFT resources on a variety of calls, including those they otherwise had not been able to re-spond to prior to adopting the scanning technology. Criminalist O’Neil commented on how effective the FARO scanner is at capturing crash and crime scenes, “By using the scanner, we spend less time on the scene, we get better data, and we can use a smaller crew. I prefer to have two people to set targets and move the scanner, but, if necessary, I can do it all myself.” O’Neil calculated that using the FARO Focus3D X 330 scanner has saved the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) more than $28,000 in overtime costs injust 16 months of operation.”
CRAFT is now called out to scan scenes whenever there is an officer-involved shooting, an officer-involved crash, or where a county or city liability may exist. The Focus3D X 330 provides the investigators with a unique ability to accurately verify line of sight issues in a crash or shooting incident. According to Criminalist O’Neil, “In an officer-involved shooting, you can position the view of the point cloud to be at the officer’s eye level. As you move through the cloud, you can see the scene exactly as they saw it.”
The FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner is the ideal portable scanning solution for accident reconstruction. With the Focus3D you can quickly capture the scene and minimize safety risk as well as traffic stoppages. Scan data is saved on an SD card for portable upload to the workstation for detailed analysis. The result is a permanent virtual 3D point cloud detailing vehicle, roadway and environmental conditions. This technology enables you to conduct accurate measurements and visualizations to recreate the accident for evaluation, as well as share scan data via the internet with insurance and legal agents.
Here’s an overview video for FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner for use in capturing and analyzing Crime and Accident Scenes. SCENE Forensic Extension allows for blood spatter analysis, bullet trajectory analysis, and also exports data to popular diagramming software packages (Visual Statement, Crime Zone, Crash Zone, ARAS 360, MapScenes)
The smallest and lightest laser scanners on the market – Focus3D X Series are ideal tools for indoor and outdoor applications. The fast and accurate laser scanners Focus3D offer everything you might expect from professional 3D laser scanners – with FARO’s established and well-known level of simplicity.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” says Robert Pelton, with the Altamonte Springs Police Department, whose crime scene pictures now come in 3D!
Traditional scene analysis is a lengthy process, requiring hundreds of pictures, measurements and sketches. The new 3D scanners, made by FARO, can capture the entire scene in a fraction of the time.
Orlando Florida’s NBC news affiliate, WESH Channel 2, aired a story on the 12.02.2015 at 6 p.m. EST featuring our FARO X330 laser scanner and FARO Freestyle3D. The segment was titled “Local police using 3D Crime Scene Technology” and is to promote new technology that is helping law enforcement personnel solve crimes. To see the story, click the link above.
FARO Technologies, Inc. , the world’s most trusted source for 3D measurement, imaging, and realization technology, announces the acquisition of ARAS 360 Technologies Inc., a global leader in the development of accident and crime reconstruction, simulation and animation software.
Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Kamloops, British Columbia, ARAS produces a full suite of accident and crime reconstruction software tools that offer advanced graphics, advanced analytical tools, and the ability to work with large point cloud data sets from 3D laser scanners. The company’s newest product, Reality, is a 64-bit crash and crime software solution that was launched in November 2014. Reality provides customers with an intuitive and user-friendly interface enabling them to quickly generate precision diagrams with stunning details and graphic realism.
“The acquisition of ARAS 360 will help FARO create a complementary suite of integrated 3D documentation product offerings for our law enforcement customers,” stated Jay Freeland, our President and CEO. “By adding the ARAS products to our portfolio, along with the product offerings of the CAD Zone which we acquired last year, customers can now document and analyze any crime or accident scene with the most intuitive and powerful drawing, simulation and animation tools in the market.”
For more information about FARO’s 3D scanning solutions visit our FARO GB Website!
When an accident occurs a reliable rapid documentation is essential for forensic purposes.
Police forces and crime scene investigators alike often turn to FARO’s Focus3D Laser Scanner to ensure the capture and recording of the entire scene in 3D. However the capturing of details in narrow or not easily accessible areas where scanning with a tripod can be difficult.
Providing the highest efficiency in its field coupled with the added time saving, due to both the mobility of the scanner and its intuitive acquisition of gathered data the FARO Freestyle3D really is a perfect accompaniment to our FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner.
Not only can police officers and investigators rapidly capture any event scene in great detail, allowing for delay minimization, the FARO Freestyle3D scan data can be easily transferred to a computer for further processing and the merging with other point clouds to deliver an absolute 3D .
The new FARO Scanner Freestyle3D, a handheld scanner for professionals provides a fast and easy to use scanning solution with verifiable accuracy of the 3D colour scan data.
Moreover, the handheld 3D scanner maximises your productivity offering fast data acquisition, real-time visualisation and the largest scan volume on the market. With this the scan time in the field is reduced enormously during the point cloud acquisition as well as with the processing of your scan results.
The 3D scan data can easily be imported into all commonly used software solution to aid crime scene and forensic reconstruction.
The FARO Freestyle3D ensures a high degree of confidence on acquired data required by crime scene and forensic investigation, whilst it effortlessly captures the 3D data of almost any type of surface. The ability to quickly record a detailed point cloud of the scene and visulise the results on the tablet in real time really sets it apart from conventional measuring techniques.
FARO Technologies, Inc., the world’s most trusted source for 3D measurement, imaging, and realization technology, announces the release of the new FARO Freestyle3D Handheld Laser Scanner, an easy, intuitive device for use in Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC), Law Enforcement, and other industries.
The FARO Freestyle3D is equipped with a Microsoft Surface™ tablet and offers unprecedented real-time visualization by allowing the user to view point cloud data as it is captured. The Freestyle3D scans to a distance of up to three 3 meters and captures up to 88K points per second with accuracy better than 1.5mm. The patent-pending, self-compensating optical system also allows users to start scanning immediately with no warm up time required.
“The Freestyle3D is the latest addition to the FARO 3D laser scanning portfolio and represents another step on our journey to democratize 3D scanning. Following the successful adoption of our FARO Focus 3D Scanners for long-range scanning, we’ve developed a scanner that provides customers with the same intuitive feel and ease-of-use in a handheld device.”
The portability of Freestyle3D enables users to maneuver and scan in tight and hard-to-reach areas such as car interiors, under tables and behind objects making it ideal for crime scene data collection or architectural preservation and restoration activities. Memory-scan technology enables Freestyle3D users to pause scanning at any time and then resume data collection where they left off without the use of artificial targets.
A scanner is not much use on its own – with SCENE software from FARO, all the scan data acquired on the set can be processed and – with the hosting service – securely shared worldwide.
FARO is a manufacturer of portable 3D measurement technology, and has developed the SCENE software package specifically for the FARO Focus3D laser scanner. However the SCENE software is not restricted to the laser scanners from FARO, but can also be combined with other makes of laser scanner.
Using this software, the user can process the photo-realistic scan data from the laser scanner with the aid of automatic scan registration and positioning methods, and then carry out measurements and 3D visualisations and export point clouds. New tools take care of automatic scan positioning without having to rely on artificial targets such as checkerboard markers or spheres. The range of functions of the software can be extended at will with plug-ins from the FARO 3D App Center, for example for creating a video, for volume calculations and much more. At the same time, FARO has published the new version 1.6 of the scan data hosting service, SCENE WebShare Cloud: This enables scan projects to be viewed, shared and published online. And all with the highest security standard.
SCENE is compatible with Windows from version 7, 64-bit, in addition to which at least a 512 MB graphics card with OpenGL-2.0-interface is required for optimum performance. For stereoscopic display, FARO recommends an Nvidia Quadro card. SCENE uses the manufacturer-independent, binary data exchange format ASTM E57, and the tool also supports all popular formats.
How many laser scanners should be used for a high-quality scan model of which magnitude?
Oliver Bürkler: The crucial factor is always the degree of detail required for a scan. The more accurate a scan is to be, and the higher the resolution it is to have, the longer the scanner takes to record the data. We are talking about a maximum of 15 minutes for a very detailed scan outdoors, within a surrounding radius of 330 metres. The larger and more complex the object to be scanned – for example a large, angular building – the more scans will have to be carried out in order to record all the surfaces. It can thus be an advantage in terms of time to employ several devices in parallel, but it is not absolutely necessary. As far as SCENE is concerned, the software can in principle handle projects of unlimited size, and map them with no restrictions.
How does the scanner store the data?
Oliver Bürkler: The scanner stores the scan data automatically on a normal SD card. If a computer is equipped with SCENE software, data transfer is started as soon as the SD card is inserted, following a brief request for confirmation.
There are two methods available for automatic scan positioning without markers: “Top View”-based registration and “Cloud-to-Cloud” registration. Which of these is suitable for which situation?
Oliver Bürkler: “Cloud-to-Cloud” registration uses all the scan data for registration. In order to be able to operate reliably, this type of registration needs in principle some initial information about the rough position and alignment of the scan. When outdoors, SCENE uses the GPS information saved by the scanner for each scan. Without this information, for example when indoors, the user has to align the scans roughly by hand in advance. In contrast to “Top-View”-based registration, this method requires a little more time but is potentially more accurate.
Prior information about location and orientation are not necessary for “Top-View”-based registration. This method is particularly suitable when there are enough vertical structures – such as walls, for example – available in the scan data.
However, in the case of targetless methods the user has to ensure greater overlapping between the individual scanning locations. So you need more scan positions but you save yourself the effort associated with transporting, fitting and managing the targets.
In which application situations is the use of targets as essential as ever?
Oliver Bürkler: SCENE still supports spheres and checkerboards as targets. The user will normally still want to use targets if he/she wants to georeference the scans, for example, with tachymeter data. The type of most suitable targets depends on the individual case.
In which formats can data such as image files, CAD drawings or cards be integrated into the scan data?
Oliver Bürkler: The user can import files in .tiff, Geotiff, .jpg or .png formats into SCENE. The software then displays the file on a horizontal plane in 3D space. In the case of a Geotiff file, the position and scaling are extracted automatically from the metadata. With the other file formats, the user has to enter the position and the scale of the image, for example by means of a dialog box.
Does stereo 3D viewing work in real time in every situation?
Oliver Bürkler: The output of a stereoscopic 3D view can be easily defined in the 3D settings of SCENE. A stereoscopic view is always possible without any time delay then.
Is SCENE WebShare Cloud permanently integrated into the software or an optional feature?
Oliver Bürkler: It is an optional service from FARO, but from the technology perspective it is fully integrated in SCENE. Advantages of the Cloud service include the easy viewing of scan data in standard web browsers, as well as the provision of data in any size. Users do not need any special software for it. The scans are also displayed as panoramic images, so no knowledge of 3D programs is required. That makes it particularly easy in the case of complex projects to provide access to the data to everyone involved – all without any time delay. Even changes to the project become visible in real time. There is the choice of making the data public or of restricting access by means of username and password.
Is web-based collaboration on the model also possible?
Oliver Bürkler: Yes, that is also possible. Although we recommend that a web conference system such as GotoMeeting or WebEx be used for that purpose when several people are working at the same time. It makes cooperation more effective.
You also offer a free version of SCENE, called Scenect. For which target group is it intended?
Oliver Bürkler: Our intention with Scenect is to appeal to people who are not typical professional 3D scanner users, and to offer them an easy way into 3D scanning. All that is needed are inexpensive sensors such as the Asus Xtion or Microsoft Kinect. With Scenect, however, only one sensor can be used at a time.
Are there any imminent plans for a Mac or Linux version von SCENE?
Oliver Bürkler: There will be no versions of the software for other operating systems in the immediate future. On the other hand, SCENE WebShare Cloud is entirely independent of the operating system.