A holodeck is no longer the preserve of TV sci-fi classic Star Trek, thanks to researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine Zurich, who have created what they say is the first system in the world to visualise the 3D data of forensic scans. Jim Drury saw it in operation.
It's not a computer game, but a 3D scan of a real-life Swiss crime scene. An Oculus Rift headset and optical tracker allows users to see inside the scene of this shooting, from infinite angles. A 3D scanner, modelling software, and Unity gaming software are part of the package. At its heart is the Forensic Holodeck software devised by the University of Zurich team. Team member Steffen Ross says the holodeck is unique. SOUNDBITE (English) STEFFEN (PRON: SCHTEFFEN) ROSS, RADIOLOGIST, OF VIRTOPSY, MEMBER OF INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC MEDICINE AT UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH, SAYING: "It's the first system ever used in the whole world to visualise the 3D data of forensic scans in this way, so nobody else ever did it before." The immersive system could transport judges, police officers, barristers, and potentially a jury inside virtual crime scenes like this. Recreated from CCTV footage, it helped prosecutors prove the intent of this gunman, subsequently jailed for 11 years. SOUNDBITE (English) STEFFEN (PRON: SCHTEFFEN) ROSS, RADIOLOGIST, OF VIRTOPSY, MEMBER OF INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC MEDICINE AT UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH, SAYING: "The actual result we had is a case of a reconstruction of bullet trajectories. So we placed the people in the room and we were able to have a much better look at the trajectories of the projectiles, than we were able to see it in a two-dimensional manner." The team, from the university's Institute of Forensic Medicine, also invented Virtobot, which provides virtual autopsies of bodies. SOUNDBITE (English) ROBERT BREITBECK, OF VIRTOPSY AND INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC MEDICINE AT UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH, SAYING: "We can scan the skin with the pattern injury in colour and true to scale so we can store it, and later we can combine it with 3D data which the police scans together with us and with this 3D data we have a basis we can do the 3D reconstructions or visualisations of murder cases or traffic accidents." But it's the Holodeck which is getting most attention, with potential applications for gaming, design.....as well as helping solve crime.