Damain Schofield, Director of Human Computer Interaction, SUNY Oswego
Courtroom environments have traditionally relied on an oral presentation of information, however they are now changing into cinematic display environments. CGI technology from the movies and the computer game industries are increasingly being used to create compelling visual media displays presenting a range of digital evidence in a convincing and credible manner. Recently, a number of courtrooms around the world have seen the presentation of forensic evidence within reconstructed virtual environments powered by ‘real-time’, interactive game engines. There are a number of problems inherent in the shift from oral to visual communication and a number of facets of this modern evidence presentation technology need to be examined. At first glance, these graphical reconstructions may be seen as potentially useful in many courtroom situations, and they are often treated like any other form of digital evidence regarding their admissibility. However, perhaps this specific form of digital media warrants special care and attention due to its inherently persuasive nature, and the undue reliance that the viewer may place on the evidence presented through such a visualization medium. This talk will introduce a range of examples of where evidence has been presented in courtrooms using video games technology (particularly forensic animation and virtual crime scene reconstructions). The talk will conclude with a discussion of the potential benefits and problems of implementing this technology in courtroom settings.
About the speaker
Dr. Damian Schofield is currently Director of Human Computer Interaction at SUNY-Oswego. Dr. Schofield has been involved in research examining the use of digital evidence in courtrooms, particularly virtual reconstructions, for many years. He is specifically interested in the representation and understanding of visual evidentiary information (especially using computer game technology) in the courtroom environment. Much of this academic research in the forensic area has concentrated on the investigation of the prejudicial effect of digital evidence, validation and verification procedures, admissibility of digital evidence and the mathematical uncertainty concerned with digital evidence. Dr. Schofield is regularly used as an expert witness in courts all over the world and has worked on many high profile cases – he has been involved in forensic casework in the UK, Australia, the USA and Malaysia. A few years ago, he was involved with the facial reconstruction of an Egyptian mummy for a documentary called “Nefertiti Reserected” shown on the Discovery Channel. He has also worked on research projects for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the USA.