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Hololens for Crime Scene Investigation


Hololens for Crime Scene Investigation

Design Challenge

Design a product, service or solution that demonstrates the value and differentiation of Mixed Reality. 

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Research Question

How can the use of Mixed Reality, specifically HoloLens, be applied to the the documentation and gathering of information in an investigation?


Primary Research: 



1. University of Washington Police Department

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We conducted our interviews with the Officers of the local Police Department. Fortunately, we were able to go inside and ask questions about their thoughts and techniques involving the current process of investigation

2. University of Washington School of Law

Due to the Law Professor being sick, we were only able to conduct a phone interview. However, she was very helpful in guiding our process and informing us of the Jencks Act of 1957 as well design opportunities such as demonstrative evidence. 

If police were required to use HoloLens to document the collection of evidence, it would create more transparency for search and seizure operations
I think a defense attorney would cry tears of joy if this technology were introduced into criminal investigations

Activities Performed

1. Phone Call Interviews

We conducted a phone call interview for the University of Washington Law Professor, asking her questions on the process of a trial as well as if HoloLens technology could be implemented successfully.

2. Contextual Inquiry

The University of Washington Police were kind enough to invite us into their office, where we followed the officer in their activities and routines involving an investigation. Even showing us areas of Police Training.

3. Personal Inventory

Lastly, we were able to conduct a personal inventory where the officer showed us specific technology and techniques that they used in order to gather the information. These included capturing information on scene and methods of preserving.  


Analyze & Synthesize: Police Department

1. Manual + Tedious Processes
When first investigating a crime scene, police have to manually map the X,Y coordinates of every piece of evidence that they personally believe is important, measuring each item with a small ruler. Then every aspect of the investigation is photographed to keep as information. This includes establishing shots, the investigating officers, and every piece of evidence. Finally, the officers sketch the diagrams of the crime scene, jotting down key notes that can be used for later reference. 

2. Preserving Evidence
After gathering and documenting all of notes from one party, these have to be then passed down to other parties that will be investigating the scene, such as the Forensics team, Prosecution and Defense. Passing this evidence from one party to another is incredibly time consuming and may take several weeks. One of my favorite quotes that helped put some aspects of the concept into perspective was...

Blood spatter is a science in itself

3. Police Training
An interesting part of of the interviews was the approach of Police Training. In order to help the officers simulate on field experiences, many real crime scenes were replicated as training courses.

We like to do as much hands on training as we can. Recreating a crime scene is one way we teach detective skills

Analyze & Synthesize: Law Professor

1. Jencks Act, 1957
Material used in federal criminal prosecution in the U.S. is considered evidence. Notes taken by the police in the context of an investigation must be made available to the defense.

2. Accessing Evidence
The defense has limited time to interact with and take notes on physical evidence. Gaining access to a single piece of evidence may take weeks.

3. Real Evidence
Often referred to as physical evidence – tangible objects that the jury may hold and inspect. Usually admissible in court because it may prove or disprove an issue of fact in trial.

4. Demonstrative Evidence
Usually charts and diagrams that demonstrate the testimony of a witness. Also includes maps, diagrams of a crime scene, and graphs that illustrate physical or financial injury to a plaintiff.

“Expert testimony is often used with demonstrative evidence accompanying real evidence – such as DNA evidence”


Insights & Design Opportunities

1. Efficiency
Reduce time spent on manual processes when documenting evidence so that more time can be spent on activities which require investigative intuition.

2. Chain of Custody
Reduce friction within the process of passing evidence from one party to the next.

3. Improve Demonstrative Evidence
By improving the quality of the evidence that is shown during court as a testimony, this can help persuade a case to a plaintiff.  Illustrating a crime scene properly can be extremely hard with the limited amount of resources. The investigators have to organize what they truly believe is evidence, and attempt to break down the investigation in front of court. 

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Final Solution

Final Solution



A police offer is the first on scene. Through his HoloLens technology he is able to document and take notes freely, through hand gestures. The entire crime scene and documentation is able to be seen back at the headquarters, where other officers wearing the technology can collaborate and guide the officer actively on field toward evidence that he might have missed. This documentation is seen through the HoloLens of the active officer but can also be saved to view later. 


UI Concepts

Exploring the UI language of the documentation tool. Ideating on the main tool bar feature and the hierarchy of information presented. 


Design Solution


HoloLens as a tool for law enforcement, prosecution and the defense.


Key Concepts

1. Room Scan

As the officer initially walks into the room, the HoloLens scans everything in the entire room, visualizing and storing the information immediately. This allows a more immediate and effective way of gathering information without having to manually take pictures of every piece of evidence that is important. By reducing the time needed on manual processes, the officer can allocate more time investigating key individual pieces rather than attempting to collect everything.  

2. Locking onto objects

By activating Cortana through voice recognition, the officer is able to select the object and document just by speaking. A mic just below Cortana is shown to notify the user that documenting is occurring. Some of the information that is automatically tagged with the mug is the profile of the Officer, time & date, address of the crime scene,  X,Y coordinates of the mug, and the dimensions.

3. Creating Orbs

When the documenting phase has been completed, the officer can swipe his hand to close the information. This collapses into an orb like object that stays pinged in the location of the mug. The mug is then able to be bagged and taken back to the labs for forensics to inspect, while still leaving an additional holographic mug with the orb attached. All of the information gathered can be viewed even after the officer leaves for other parties to immediately catch up on the information left behind. 

4. Real Time Frame Tool

Through the use of Frame Tool, the officer is able to calculate the velocity and trajectory of blood splatter in real time. Instead of having to manually pin up red lines of string to see where the blood initially came from, the tool eliminates wasting time and can create further insight.

5. Multiple Parties Can View

By leaving information behind in the form of Orbs, other parties such as attorneys can visit the crime scene to collect details about their case. Information is constantly updated and can toggle through orbs that were left behind by the officer or other parties to understand multiple perspectives. 

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