Mobile high-resolution 3D-Scanner and
3D data analysis for forensic evidence

3D-Forensics is a project funded by the EU 7th framework programme (FP7-SECURITY)
with a 28 month duration from 1 May 2013 to 31 August 2015.

In the first phase of the project the technical requirements placed on the design of the 3D scanning and analysing system were confirmed and further detailed. This was achieved by considering the present use of traces in the investigation and prosecution of crime and the potential offered by the application of the 3D scanning technology. An important result was a confirmation of the types of traces the scanning system should focus on within this project, namely footwear and vehicle tyre impressions left at crime scenes. After setting the technical requirements the complete system was designed. The design of the system has taken into consideration that the data provided by the system must be of a type and quality that the police can use within their investigations and to support expert evidence given in court. The system has been designed to be implemented into the present police workflow for investigating crimes scenes and preparing evidence for court.

In the second phase of the project the two main parts to the system are being designed. Firstly, a mobile hand-held 3D-sensor system based on high-resolution fringe projection, including embedded FPGA-based electronics for fast data processing, designed for direct use at crime scenes. Secondly, a set of software tools designed for collection of 3D-data, the easy extraction of 3D-features out of scanned traces and their forensic analysis.

The third phase of the project will see the continued development of the system and the integration and laboratory testing of the 3D-scanner.

The fourth phase of the project will see the integration of the system modules in prototypes for testing outside the laboratory by the police and forensic experts within the consortium. The development of two prototypes is foreseen.

The fifth phase of the project is focused on the actual test and evaluation of the development results.

Time chart of the 3D-Forensics project

Dissemination, exploitation and management activities run throughout the course of the project. The project responded to a topic in the FP7 Security work programme that was specifically targeted towards Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and five of the seven partners are SMEs. The work in the project will be focused towards providing a solution which is sufficiently attractive to the police community to be commercially exploited by the SMEs. The system offers the potential to reduce the time taken to match or rule out the presence of suspects at crime scenes. In addition, the application of advanced optical scanning and data analysis technology offers the possibility to obtain an increase in the evidentially relevant detail obtained from traces at crime scenes.

1) Development of a mobile high-resolution 3D scanning system for forensic evidence recovery at crime scenes.

2) Development of 3D data analysis and processing software tools to provide results which may be used in the investigation and prosecution of crime.

3) Test and evaluation of the 3D scanning system with processing and analysis software by members of the forensic community.

4) To supplement the expertise of a SME based consortium with further end user and applied research knowledge for efficient and effective development of a new product.

Actual results of the project
3D-Forensics developed a prototype mobile high resolution 3D-scanner and 3D data analysis software for forensic evidence to record and analyse footwear and tyre impressions as well as profiles left at crime scenes in 3D and colour with optical scanning technology. The scanner is designed as a handheld device which can be used outdoors with battery power. The scans provide highly resolved 3D point clouds and colour images are taken simultaneously with an attachable high resolution camera. The integrated 3D measurement and colour data can be analysed with a set of software tools to investigate characteristics of the footwear and tyre impressions. The software has been designed to allow an analysis of the new 3D data in a way in which forensic experts are used to working with traditional techniques. Individual identification characteristics such as holes and tears in footwear impressions can be compared against scans of suspects’ shoes or the actual shoes. A workflow and methods have been implemented to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the data. The system was successfully tested in relevant environments i.e. similar to crime scenes. The results are assessed as having reached the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 and a 30 month plan has been developed to take the project results through to the launch of a product (TRL 9) with the support of 5 police forces and 1 forensic institute.

Prototype of the mobile high-resolution 3D-Scanner

Color coded 3D height map of a footwear impression in sand

3D-scan of a shoe sole and detailed view

Principle scheme for crime investigation using equipment and methods for 3D-analysis

Workflow of forensic scientists in preparing forensic proofs and applying of "Forensic Intelligence" using equipment and methods for 3D-analysis

3D-scan of a footwear impression with overlapped color information

Different shadowing methods at a 3D point cloud of a footwear impression