Jessica Vermeer
16 December 2019

Researchers from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and the Dutch Forensics Institute (NFI) have developed a new solution that can make the use of a physical ruler in crime scene photography obsolete. The Freeref prototype consists of a precise laser projector placed on the camera lens and software that automatically derives the sizes in the picture from the laser projection. The system was successfully tested last month at a simulated crime scene of the police academy in Apeldoorn.

Forensic researchers often use rulers to photograph material from crime scenes, so its size can later be determined from the pictures. However, the ruler can contaminate or harm the trace evidence and is often inconvenient to use. The solution developed by TU Delft’s Biomechanical Engineering department on behalf of NFI saves time at a reduced risk of contamination.

Credit: NFI

Biomechanical Engineering professor Arjo Loeve still sees room for improvement. “For some challenging crime scene situations, the software wasn’t always able to detect the laser projection. We now better know how to improve the robustness of the prototype and the software. We’ll continue to work on this within our Engineering for Forensics research line.”