Virtual Reality (VR) in the Courtroom

Background

An individual over the age of 70 was walking through the interior of a 50-foot yacht for the first time. The incident took place during the daytime and the interior lights were on. After inspecting two of three sleeping cabins, the individual moved from the second berthing area visited and across the hallway towards the closed door in front of the third cabin. They grasped the door handle, opened the door, looked down, and attempted to enter the cabin. As they stepped down, they experienced a misstep and consequently suffered an ankle injury. While opening the door and before entering the room at the threshold, the individual testified that they did not perceive the 8-inch step down into the cabin. A single photograph was taken directly above the threshold and used to support an optical illusion claim.

Process

Explico was retained to provide an analysis of the case. Our team of experts inspected a “sister” vessel that had the same interior dimensions but different flooring. During the inspection, Explico took photographs of the premises, surroundings, step, and room at multiple locations and from varying angles, as well as measurements of key features, and 360° walkthrough videos and photographs. A 3D immersive environment was created for this case and was based on actual measurements, photos, and videos. The immersive environment was also compared to the limited photographs provided by the individual using photo-matching techniques to identify the location where it was taken. The immersive environment created by our team allowed users in a study to more realistically observe the incident location by allowing them to determine whether or not there was a step-down or an “optical illusion” affecting one’s ability. For those who participated in the VR environment and simulation created by Explico, users saw the change in elevation between the bedroom and hallway.

Results

Although a motion for final summary judgment was granted in favor of the defendant, Explico planned to provide the jurors with a visualization that would have provided an even more representative and interactive environment, which would have allowed them to perceive the monocular and binocular spatial depth cues at their own eye height.

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