What is XR?
extended Reality (XR) is the family that includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) either utilized individually or together. VR allows forensic science students to experience immersive, highly interactive, and ultra-realistic crime scene environments. AR allows forensic science students to experience the same from any remote location, including home, through a smartphone or tablet. MR allows forensic science students to touch and feel real objects while immersed in VR experiences. Envision is at the forefront of delivering platform agnostic and collaborative XR solutions for immersive forensic science education.
How can XR enhance forensic science education?
Traditional forensic crime scene simulation is limited by lack of environmental immersion, lack of adequate props, and unrealistic mannequin-based flesh wounds. While conveying the proper process of crime scene investigation, it simply does not offer the needed realism and shock factor that an investigator might experience at a forensic homicide crime scene. The student is often limited to a single unrealistic school room area that remains static and suffers from bottlenecked availability.
Forensic EduSim™, via XR deployment, resolves these issues by creating ultra-realistic graphics and textured environments, unlimited customizable props, and realistic flesh wounds as forensic crime investigators would experience in real life. We also feature realistic audible distractions depending on the crime scene environment. For example, our urban city environment features car horns and footstep sounds to mimic the sensorium of a city alley. The use of AR and VR lock in the attention of the student and removes external distraction. The high-end graphics and interactive animation of our crime scene environments and props holds the students attention and makes for a more memorable and knowledge-retentive experience-allowing the student to apply their learning experience to the real world more efficiently. Peer-reviewed educational studies have found that the use of AR and VR have increased student test scores while reducing the time to learn. Lastly, the use of AR and VR allow more students to engage with immersive forensic science training than traditional training methods.
Meet Forensic EduSim™
Forensic EduSim™ is more than just an XR application. It’s a platform that allows students the capability to learn forensic crime scene investigation methods either on-campus or remotely in a more realistic training environment than what’s traditionally available in the physical classroom. The platform produces comprehensive data reports, for each student’s behavior in the simulation, for easy performance assessment and even official grading. While VR users explore immersive crime scenes, AR users can engage in specific tabletop activities like latent fingerprint analysis and DNA processing. The Forensic EduSim™ platform simply offers an unparalleled learning environment for the forensic science student.
Burlington County Institute of Technology, New Jersey
The Burlington County Institute of Technology (BCIT) has two campuses located in Medford, NJ and Westampton, NJ which both feature law and public safety departments with forensic science laboratories. Each campus laboratory utilized a standalone room to physically simulate a crime scene with mannequins and various pieces of fake evidence. The forensic science instructors informed us of their disappointment with how unauthentic the crime scene simulation was. They mentioned specifically that the mannequins did not have realistic wounds and that the floor, walls and ceiling did not simulate enough real-world distractions like a forensic investigator would encounter in the field. Envision took strong note of these problems and proposed a VR solution to resolve.
Envision developed, built on the Forensic EduSim™ platform, ten ultra-realistic environments ranging from urban to suburban to rural in theme both day and night. We implemented real audio to ensure real-life distraction. Our urban environments, for example, contain background noises like automotive traffic and horns. We implemented realistic virtual murder victims with grotesque stab wounds. Our intention was to shock and desensitize the forensic science trainee so that they are better prepared for encountering the real thing in the field. The BCIT forensic science instructors have greatly appreciated our efforts. We developed a user-friendly menu interface with a “bag of forensic science tools” for the student user to utilize in each VR crime scene. Once a student user selects their crime scene environment, they must take proper-angle photos of the scene, victim, and wounds with an in-VR experience camera. They must collect all pieces of evidence and store them in proper evidence containers. For example, wet evidence must be stored in a paper bag vs. dry evidence that must be stored in a plastic bag. We created official weapons containers for the student user to place knives and guns into. We implemented haptic feedback into the VR controllers to make tracing bodies with chalk and unrolling crime scene tape more interactive and realistic. This functionality adds a significant layer of immersive depth to the forensic crime scenes.
Once the student user collects all evidence and obtains all necessary photos they leave the VR crime scene and enter the VR forensic crime lab. In the lab they process all evidence, view the captured photos on an emulated in-VR computer, utilize ultraviolet flashlights to view fingerprints and biological fluid, and ultimately send evidence out to appropriate labs for processing. When the student exits the forensic crime lab, their entire experience including photos taken are viewable by the instructor for post-exercise review, discussion, and assessment.