Still a Long Wait Before Our Courts Go 'Virtual'

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Virtual reality (VR) graphics have made significant leaps in recent years. However, VR's rapid rise in popularity has raised some key considerations for legal professionals.

Experts have questioned the potential use of the technology in courtrooms, particularly with its use as a potential illustrative aid for trial attorneys. So what are the potential implications of immersing jurors in a VR-enabled scenario?

Professor of law at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Gary Marchant, spoke at Orlando's Wolters Kluwer's ELM User Conference on how VR technology could help attorneys recreate scenes for jurors in ways that could help them get a complete understanding of a matter.

But VR's rapid evolution, which goes well beyond the speed of legal regulation, has made it hard to predict how courtrooms will be able to regulate potential biases formed by virtual recreations, especially when they require human programmers to create.

Marchant said: "How do you make sure it's used in a reliable way?"

Work has been carried out by researchers at Staffordshire University's Center of Archeology and Forensic and Crime Science, where they explored new ways in which VR technology can be used to recreate and present crime scenes and accidents for trial. Head of the project at Staffordshire, Caroline Sturdy Colls, explained that while many legal applications of virtual reality already exist, there hopes to expand this.

Many of these technologies are in use on a smaller scale in order to recreate crime scenes, such as an imaging tool that can offer jurors images of the perpetrator's potential view from the suspect's specific height, as used by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).