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UK uni tests out virtual reality crime scenes

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Jury service may become a tad more exciting in the future, after new advances in virtual reality technology could be utilised in the courtroom.

Only theorised in the glitzy CSI TV show, jurors of the future may don headsets and be transported to the scene of the crime.

Researchers at Staffordshire University have been trialling a scheme to give a virtual tour of a crime scene, allowing a barrister to guide the jury through all the details.

Using virtual reality headsets, special cameras and green screen technology, boffins hope that jurors can gain a better understanding of the evidence.

Dr Sturdy Colls, associate professor of forensics said: "What we want to do is to come up with the best solution that helps the criminal justice system - help the police in their detection and recording of crime and then to help jurors in court to understand those crimes better that they ever did before."

The headsets would cost around £700 each, or £8,400 per jury - a price point Staffordshire Police says is affordable.

It is unknown how long it would take before it could become common in courtrooms.

Barrister Jason Holt, of Steven Solicitors, said he was “sceptical” that it would make an impact on cases.

"We don't have a very good track record with bringing technology into court rooms.

"We've recently gone on to a digital system within the Crown court and it's causing significant delays; the systems we're using break down, the technology isn't sufficient and we go back to pen and paper. It's causing delays in court, in my own experience.

"I do wonder how much difference going to a crime scene in 3D will make, compared to a standard DVD and video cameras which are used at the moment to record similar information."

Examples of using virtual reality to tell the whole story have previously been used in journalism. This YouTube video (below) gives viewers a better understanding of the Treyvon Martin shooting in the US.

We’ll just have to hope technology catches up with the courts, but don’t hold your breath just yet.

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