Other systems allow a 3D panoramic image of the entire crime scene to be developed. The viewer is able to scan left or right to see particular aspects of the scene. In addition, the viewer can zoom into the scene and look at any particular aspect of the image. These systems use a special lens on a digital camera which is mounted on a tripod located in the center of the scene. One of these type systems is SpheroCam HDR (Linear Systems, San Bernadino, CA.), which can also create a virtual reality walk-through of the scene by combining images of various hot spots identified by the viewer. PanoScan Corporation (Van Nuys, CA.) creates panoramic images that can be printed out as a photograph or shown on a screen in the courtroom.
Toward virtual reality
These systems, while capable of showing where bloodstain spatter is, are not capable of analyzing this data and providing insight as to how the blood spatter was created. A Durham, NC company, 3rd Tech, has created a 3D capture system that allows bloodstain spatter patterns not only to be captured, but also viewed and analyzed. The DeltaSphere-3000 3D Scanner consists of a laser rangefinder and camera integrated with an embedded computer controller and graphics software. Unlike other camera systems which take a single or small number of pictures (measurements), the DeltaSphere-3000 takes thousands of measurements in a relatively short time. Every point on which the laser is focused is recorded. This means that a particular bloodstain spatter pattern of a kitchen wall consisting of a hundred unique blood spots can be measured from a specific reference point (the camera), and then the distance and angle of impact from the victim can be calculated in a relatively short period of time. This would be like a CSI technician measuring each unique blood spot with a tape measure or trajectory rods thousands of times. This process is then repeated for each bloodstain spatter pattern on the walls, floor or ceiling of the crime scene. Pictures of the bloodstain areas and the related measurement data all are preserved in the computer databank.
This system also allows the scene to be viewed from perspectives such as from above, or from another room. A major advantage of the system is it allows the viewer to see the scene as the victim saw it, then as the perpetrator saw it, or as the first officers on the scene might have seen it. These views can give both investigators and jury members a real feel for being at the scene as the events unfolded.
Watch for Sticker Shock
The price range for these systems runs from around $1000 for the software packages to as much as $50,000 for the laser or high resolution camera 3D systems. While these prices are hard to justify for many departments, these systems can also be used for mapping at crash and traffic related scenes. It may be possible for a department to obtain grant money for technology equipment purchases from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (See related story by Bob Galvin, Mapping choices abound as traffic and crashes mount, Law Enforcement Technology, August 2007).
The ability to see a crime scene from various angles and perspectives and to rapidly process the bloodstain pattern data can provide investigators with valuable information that otherwise would not be available for a period of days or weeks and in many cases might not be available at all because of time and priority constraints.