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New technology could help tracing the path of the bullet in shooting victims

Posted October 7, 2019

We live in a violent world, where crime happens every day. Police forces nowadays have a lot of the necessary technology to increase the chances that perpetrators are going to be caught.

However, sometimes puzzles prove to be too difficult for them anyway. Scientists from Monash University are currently developing technology that could one day help forensics track bullet paths in shooting victims.

Tracing the path of the bullet is not easy, but the new software could improve the process. Image credit: James Case via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

The trajectory of the bullet helps understanding what happened at the particular time of the shot, where the shooter was standing, how he was holding the gun and maybe even how tall he was.

Scientists and their industry partners are now creating new technology using machine learning and augmented reality, which will help reliably track the path of the bullet. The new technology will be able to create a digital 3D model of the human anatomy, including entry and exit wounds.

Ultimately this will help finding fragments of the bullet, identifying calibers, shooter’s position in relation to the victim, range and other important parameters for shooting crime scenes. Scientists say that one day this tech will help telling whether wounds were self-inflicted or resulting from attempted homicide.

Forensics labs are currently using a variety of other techniques. Previous X-Rays were producing 2D images of the wounds and that is basically the only thing investigators had. Now CT scans can be used to produce a more realistic and accurate image, but they are not immune to other metal objects in the body, such as pacemakers and bullet fragments. And so investigators are sometimes left with the both basic techniques to visualize the path of the bullet, such as very simple probes.

This technology allows slicing and turning the image to get the most accurate idea of how the bullet was passing through the body. Image credit: Monash University

This new technology will allow slicing the virtually image in multiple planes, showing fragments and turns in the path, if there happen to by any. Furthermore, scientists say that the model can then be 3D printed and used as evidence in the courtroom.

Chris Bain, one of the scientists behind the project, said: “This approach is much more scientific and rigorous than the way this procedure is currently performed, and fits with recent calls for improved forensic examination practices. The big picture is that post-mortems could be reduced for shooting victims, as this technology has the potential to scan and analyse the body, as opposed to the body being dissected. The technology could streamline workload and time efficiencies, and address any cultural sensitivities that may arise”.

This technology has some potential in health sector as well, because it will be easier to visualize damage, left by the bullet passing through the body.


Source: Monash University

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