Journal article: Haptics in forensics – The possibilities and advantages in using the haptic device for reconstruction approaches in forensic science

Forensic Sci Int. 2008 Sep 1;

Authors: Buck U, Naether S, Braun M, Thali M

Non-invasive documentation methods such as surface scanning and radiological imaging are gaining in importance in the forensic field. These three-dimensional technologies provide digital 3D data, which are processed and handled in the computer. However, the sense of touch gets lost using the virtual approach. The haptic device enables the use of the sense of touch to handle and feel digital 3D data. The multifunctional application of a haptic device for forensic approaches is evaluated and illustrated in three different cases: the representation of bone fractures of the lower extremities, by traffic accidents, in a non-invasive manner; the comparison of bone injuries with the presumed injury-inflicting instrument; and in a gunshot case, the identification of the gun by the muzzle imprint, and the reconstruction of the holding position of the gun.

The 3D models of the bones are generated from the Computed Tomography (CT) images. The 3D models of the exterior injuries, the injury-inflicting tools and the bone injuries, where a higher resolution is necessary, are created by the optical surface scan.

The haptic device is used in combination with the software FreeForm Modelling Plusâ„¢ for touching the surface of the 3D models to feel the minute injuries and the surface of tools, to reposition displaced bone parts and to compare an injury-causing instrument with an injury.

The repositioning of 3D models in a reconstruction is easier, faster and more precisely executed by means of using the sense of touch and with the user-friendly movement in the 3D space. For representation purposes, the fracture lines of bones are coloured. This work demonstrates that the haptic device is a suitable and efficient application in forensic science. The haptic device offers a new way in the handling of digital data in the virtual 3D space.