After the Webinar: The Power of 3D Technology in the Courtroom. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Noreen Charlton and Jayson Chambers answered a number of your questions after their presentation, The Power of 3D Technology in the Courtroom. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: How does the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science on Video or Imaging Technology and Analysis impact 3D scanning? Have they provided any guidelines that need to be followed?

Noreen Charlton: So currently we don’t have any guidelines from them. I am aware that there is an OSAC? group specifically for laser scanning. And that’s what they’re currently working on creating some standards in the fields as it applies to scanning for forensic scenes.



Audience Question: During your portion of the presentation, what were the white squares with symbols that were depicted around the body?

Noreen Charlton: Squares, symbols. Oh, so those are markers. Sorry, it took me a second to remember. Those are markers. That was a scene that was scanned several years ago in a combination with our FARO®Focuss scanner and our original handheld scanner. The original handheld scanner required markers or targets in order to combine the two projects together, but we no longer require those with our new scanner.



Audience Question:  How much room for error is there using the current handheld scanner? 

Noreen Charlton: So, the current handheld scanner is 0.5 mm of error at a one-meter distance. And obviously, the further away you are from the object you are scanning, the greater your error would be, but the handheld scanner right now is used a lot in crime or crash investigations to scan smaller areas. So, bodies, small rooms, vehicles. And then combine that information together with the terrestrial scanner. So, the Focuss scanner and then combined together, you’ll obviously have a different error rate as well because you’re overlapping your data points.

Host: So, it sounds like ideally, you use the handheld scanner as a supplement to the larger scanner?

Noreen Charlton: That is correct. Yes.



Audience Question: Are your products purchasable in the UK? 

Noreen Charlton: Yes, absolutely. We are a global company and there are countries all over this world that use the FARO scanners.



Audience Question: Has FARO faced any Daubert challenges during evidentiary hearings in court? 

Noreen Charlton: Yes, we sure have. The first one that I’m aware of was in 2013. And so, the laser scanning data they were preparing for a Daubert hearing. But the judge decided that the laser scan data because it follows a scientific method. It’s essentially nothing other than a virtual reality photograph, right? So just like, your photographs are allowed as a documentation of your scene, likewise, the scan data is, and we have not had any issues with allowing it in court.



Audience Question: Are we able to provide the proprietary software in discovery to defense so that they can access the data? 

Noreen Charlton: You could, but you don’t have to. Some of you have to provide them with the raw scan data and what they choose to do with that is up to them.

Jayson Chambers:  Part of that answer too, in our experience in the prosecution of cases here in FBI Detroit is that the scans are so realistic and lifelike, the defense rarely chooses to fight against using the scans themselves. What argument are they going to make? It’s not accurate enough? Is that what you’re really going to argue? So, they stipulate almost every time.



Audience Question: Can you talk about the post-production time and any kind of challenges or ease that you had in terms of creating the images that you did?

Noreen Charlton: Jayson, I don’t know if you have specific have timelines you have for your case. If you want to speak to those, I can speak generally, but I’ll let Jayson speak to his case if he has that information.

Jayson Chambers: Sure, I can talk a little bit about it. So, for the primary case I was discussing, the scanning itself took roughly three hours, maybe a little bit more than three hours. We were gathering data at a fairly high resolution because it was in the middle of the night, and we knew this wasn’t a crime scene anymore. We weren’t in a hurry. So, it probably took a little longer than we originally are than we normally would there. Afterward, that was a fairly complex model, and I did take some extra steps to kind of make it look pretty. And then ultimately, with going back and forth with the prosecutors and things, I would estimate that I probably spent roughly eight hours in post-processing, finalizing the model, and getting everything to look sharp and appropriate. So, I would estimate 8 hours for that model.



Audience Question: How much does one of these units cost?

Noreen Charlton: Oh, that’s a loaded question. So, we have several ranges on the FARO Focus scanner. And so, that goes by the distance that the laser can extend out into space before it captures that measurement and comes back. So, quite a wide range there, as well as the handheld scanner. But, if you are interested in any information on that, please just send me an e-mail and I can point you in the right direction to one of our account managers.


Audience Question: Does the scanner capture moving objects or just static and still objects? 

Noreen Charlton: The scanner is going to capture anything that is within its line of sight. So, for example, if you are scanning a roadway and you had two lanes shut down because you are scanning a crash. But you still had vehicles moving in a third lane, will pick up the data points as they move by, if they are moving by, kind of in its line of sight. But the scene software gives us the ability to hide those points, not delete. We never say, delete anything, right? But it gives you the ability to hide it, to clean it up, those extraneous points from vehicles moving by or people walking through, aren’t truly part of your scene. So, you can isolate them and essentially turn them off.



Audience Question: Can you zoom in and orient around different objects in a scan search, such as around a chair, or even the firearm, and the bank robbery example to get before?

Noreen Charlton: Yeah, absolutely. FARO’s own software provides you the ability to navigate around your scene in any way that you so choose. So, if the data is there in your project, you can maneuver around it, you could create a video around it. You can isolate it. Again, like we spoke about, creating a 3D model for 3D printing. There are all different kinds of things that you can do once you have the data.



Audience Question: How does this system deal with any kind of reflective surface?

Noreen Charlton: So, the nature of infrared laser scanning is that it just doesn’t love reflective surfaces. That doesn’t mean that we cannot scan them. We have settings within the scanner. If you increase your resolution and increase your quality. We’re getting a little deeper on the scanner, scanner training, but you can capture better data on those highly reflective surfaces. So, your mirrors, your glass, standing bodies of water. We have ways to capture that information better, but just the nature of the scanner is, no, it does not love highly reflective surfaces.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of The Power of 3D Technology in the Courtroom

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