3D scanning technology captures every detail in forensic investigations

What comes to your mind when forensics and evidence identification are mentioned?

Is this the place where the police take pictures of the crime scene and determine the position of the victim?
Or is it similar to what is described in television dramas, where forensic experts conduct various tests before ultimately finding key evidence to solve a case?
It is widely believed that forensic science is a very tedious job of collecting evidence and identifying using a variety of tools, preserving evidence and archiving. All of these procedures are time-consuming and labor-intensive and can even lead to loss of evidence in the event of incorrect actions.

3D scanning technology can alleviate some of the difficulties associated with these procedures. In the areas of evidence management, fingerprint analysis, identification of ear injuries and bruises, the use of 3D scanning technology has great potential.

Example 1 - Evidence management

Recently, the Jiangxing Courts have pioneered the use of a digital intelligent evidence management mode. Using artificial intelligence (AI), forensic blockchain, 3D data, modeling and other technologies, the court has created an evidence management platform where 3D scanning modeling is becoming a new approach to collecting and storing evidence data. SCANTECH 's iReal color 3D scanner and PRINCE handheld 3D scanner were featured in a technical demo on system design.


In recent years, cases of infringement of intellectual property rights have become more frequent. Compared to ordinary civil cases, intellectual property cases tend to involve a large amount of physical evidence, and the accumulation of large amounts of evidence over time can easily overwhelm evidence vaults.

Digital Intelligent Tangible Evidence Management can effectively solve the problems associated with the storage, management and retrieval of evidence. SCANTECH 3D scanners can be used to create 3D models of exhibits, and then the exhibits can be uploaded to an intelligent exhibit management platform, allowing litigants to collect their exhibits for preservation and present them later if needed.

SCANTECH 3D laser scanners have significant advantages in terms of scanning material evidence: high accuracy and high detail (maximum resolution 0.010 mm) data that can be easily obtained without the need for surface treatment, even for complex objects with reflective or black surfaces; completeness of data and adaptability to the environment (can be deployed both indoors and outdoors).

On the other hand, the iReal color 3D scanner is more efficient when scanning physical evidence that includes a large number of geometric elements and matte textures. No markers are required and the device is very portable and easy to use. Color scans can be obtained to meet the color data needs of the courts for some of the exhibits.

Statistics show that during the 1-month trial period of the evidence management platform in Jiaxing City, free of more than 3,000 pieces of evidence, 5 evidence warehouses with a total area of ​​more than 500 square meters were emptied.

Example 2 - Analysis of a footprint

Collecting and analyzing fingerprints is one of the main approaches used by the police in investigations. An unremarkable trail may hide information about the gender, age, physique of the suspect, and even his gait.

The traditional extraction of footprints uses a plaster cast method. First, a fence with a height of 2-4 cm is erected around the footprint. Then a plaster slurry is poured from the bottom of the track. After the gypsum has hardened, the mold is taken out, moistened in water and allowed to air dry. The result is a mold for plaster prints.

This method has many disadvantages. It usually takes more than 30 minutes to cast a plaster mold. If the extraction fails, it will not be possible to retrieve the form of the fingerprint, but the footprint information at the scene of the incident will be corrupted without further recovery options. An abundance of footprint information can often be found in areas covered with snow, sand and dust. However, it would be extremely difficult to extract prints on these materials using the plaster casting method.

3D scanning provides a completely new approach to trace extraction. SCANTECH offers two sets of fingerprint extraction solutions: iReal markerless texture capture and a portable high-precision 3D laser scanning solution. Both solutions leave the original footprint morphology intact (laser scanners rely on magnetic markers that are attached around the footprint so there is no need to stick markers or physically contact any part of the footprint). Data can be easily acquired even from specific surfaces such as snow, sand and dust.

Plaster molding versus 3D scanning. Fingerprint simulationThe 3D handheld laser scanner solution has the advantages of data completeness, accuracy (maximum precision 0.02mm) and detail (maximum detail 0.010mm, thinner than a hair). Even tiny, narrow indentations in a footprint can be scanned clearly without the slightest mistake. The solution also has a high degree of applicability in various challenging lighting conditions (both indoor and outdoor).

03 | Foot print

If you have a high-precision model, you can print a footprint at a crime scene using a high-precision industrial 3D printer to preserve and study evidence, or you can also measure size-related parameters (such as lowest point of the sole or width of the foot) to help determine the sex, age, body shape and walking characteristics of the suspect. In addition, the model can also be zoomed in and out at different angles for better observation and side-by-side comparison, providing more information to investigators.

With a high-precision model, a crime scene print can be printed using a high-precision industrial 3D printer to preserve and study evidence, and measure parameters related to size (such as the bottom of the sole or the width of the foot) to help determine gender, age, the shape of the body and the characteristics of the gait of the suspect. In addition, the model can be zoomed in and out at different angles for better observation and comparison of overlays, providing investigators with more information.

Example 3 - Definition of injury

3D scanning also plays an important role in identifying injuries.

iReal as a 3D body scanner is applicable not only to “objects” but also to “people” (for earlier reports on medical scans of human bodies, you can read the article on a comprehensive 3D solution for healthcare . the physical data of the patients is needed.In comparison, trauma data is required in forensic investigations for discrimination and case analysis.

Traditional identification of trauma continues to be based on measuring tapes and photography. However, the results obtained with measuring tapes can contain large errors when it comes to irregular traumatic shapes, while photographs can only transmit 2D images without additional information.

The iReal color 3D scanner is capable of quickly acquiring 3D information about the wound, such as surface area, circumference and angles, making it easy to accurately measure and assess injuries.

At the same time, the iReal 3D scanner can also operate in invisible light mode to provide a safe and comfortable scanning process that lasts no more than 30 seconds. All of these features can enhance the effectiveness of the investigation and ensure that the victim can seek prompt medical attention once trauma is identified.

Example 4 - Examination of ear injuries

For a long time, the identification of auricular contusions has been one of the most difficult tasks for forensic medical examination.

Compared to other injuries, pinna injuries have their own characteristics. In cases involving trauma to the auricle, the ratio of the defective auricle area to the total auricle area should be measured. Due to the complex shape of the pinna and the irregular margins of the defective area, it may not be possible to measure the original pinna margins, making it very difficult for forensic examination.

Currently, there is no effective way of forensic examination of auricular contusions. Commonly used approaches include counting meshes after enlarging the damage area or calculating with scale paper, both of which are time consuming and entail large errors.

Working with Anzheng, SCANTECH has developed an intelligent 3D forensic science system (forensic science not only refers to “corpse identification”, which is usually familiar to the general public, but also includes “identification of injuries on living bodies”). The system implements a 3D scanning-based ear injury detection scheme: first, the iReal 3D scanner is used to scan the pinna data, then Anzheng's intelligent identification technology is used to quickly identify and separate the 3D pinna, which is then compared to the pinna with on the other hand, with the subsequent automatic calculation of the ratio of the damaged area to the total area of ​​the auricle.

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The entire calculation process takes place without human intervention, which avoids errors caused by human factors and significantly improves the accuracy of determining ear contusions.

Example 5 - Additional Methods and Research

Using 3D digital approaches to collect information on the spot, more accurate and comprehensive analysis and measurement of 3D data at crime scenes and turn it into presentable materials in court is a completely new and revolutionary solution.

The intelligent 3D forensic identification system, developed jointly by SCANTECH and Anzheng, has been tested in Anhui and Zhejiang provinces. Through its forensic research and evidence retrieval, the system has gradually won the trust of forensic investigators and forensic experts.

Take, for example, the use of a crime scene tape. Anzheng Tech used SCANTECH's iReal 3D scanner to assist in capturing 3D crime scene data, generating data for an intuitive virtual display for further analysis. With the software, footprints and common ground can be intuitively identified, distance data such as length and width at crime scenes can be seen, and footprint analysis can be performed to help investigators reconstruct the crime and solve cases.

Regardless of the objects, people, or footprints left behind at a crime scene, 3D scanning goes a long way toward helping investigators make their job easier. SCANTECH strives to develop more targeted, innovative solutions tailored to different scenarios. 3D digitizing not only improves the accuracy and efficiency of forensic investigations, but also provides convenience for subsequent digital archiving and analysis processes. In addition, these datasets can also be used in forensic teaching to enrich teaching materials and improve teaching relevance to real-life scenarios.

3D digitizing is a new technology. SCANTECH will work with its partners to deepen its understanding of the requirements of frontline workers and strive to deliver digital 3D solutions with greater mobility, efficiency and accuracy.
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