AR/VR and the Future of Policing
Many voices in the U.S. and across the world are calling to take action aimed at bolstering the trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, including, by ensuring better de-escalation training to police officers as well as investing in more effective resources to ensure justice is being served.
Earlier this year, our team reviewed a number of video games that present futuristic worlds in which detectives can use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to recreate and map out crime scenes and analyze one’s environment to gather information and clues. This futuristic setting is actually already here. Black Marble Limited is assigning police officers in the field by mapping crime scenes in AR and digitizing the evidence gathering process. Law enforcement agents can virtually return to the scene of crime and view the markers placed and information gathered.
© Black Marble Limited
In the meantime, VR is regarded by many as the “next step in police training.” Companies like SurviVR (a Techstars alum like us!), Axon, Apex Officer, NSENA VR, and Street Smarts VR (an NYC Media Lab member like us!) are all redefining how first responders train by offering fully-immersive VR training simulators and other VR technology training solutions. Police and public safety officers can practice real world situations in a virtual setting, focusing on de-escalation techniques and conflict management skills. Since 2019, the NYPD has been using VR to train for active shootings and real-life scenarios.
© SurviVR PBC
AR is also used for mission management for airborne law enforcement. Churchill Navigation allows airborne law enforcement operators to view street, addresses, businesses, infrastructure, vehicle locations, and other information, directly on top of sensor video of choppers and drones in real time. The AR overlay on one single display provide a comprehensive analysis that can assist in stopping hot pursuits and other high-risk situations.
© Churchill Navigation
What does the future has in store for policing? The use of AR and VR is expanding at a rapid pace, fueled by investments from many tech giants. With AR glasses and VR headset becoming more advanced while at the same time more affordable, the applicability of these technologies is the world of policing and law enforcement is only at it’s inception.
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If you’ve ever watched “Sherlock”, the British television series staring Benedict Cumberbatch, you would be familiar with the genius detective who is able to piece together information quickly and effortlessly. In the show, bits of information seem to float off of the crime scene, a gift reserved only to those with a natural born talent for deduction and exceptional intellect. But what if such ability to perceive information could became a standard skill of any patrol officer equipped with the latest AR glasses or any police forensics professional using the newest VR headset thanks to the efforts of Black Marble Limited and other AR/VR companies? With AR and VR, law enforcement will be able to instantly analyze a crime scene and test hypotheses about what may have occurred across different scenarios.
In the near future, AR might also provide police officers with real-time information that would reduce unnecessary traffic stops and de-escalate tense interactions between law enforcement and law-abiding citizens. The margin of error would decrease and accountability would increase as the potential for evidence to be mishandled would drop through the use of AR and VR technologies.
Policing and law enforcement is an emerging yet underdeveloped use case of AR and VR and, with 38.4% of murder in the U.S. left unsolved in 2019, there is a clear need for new and innovative solutions in this space. AR/VR is already improving police investigations, training and work. Helping to further these advancements and make AR/VR even more accessible, echoAR is a 3D-ready cloud platform for AR and VR that provides tools and server-side infrastructure to help developers and companies quickly build and deploy AR/VR apps and experiences. The echoAR platform allows you to build your backend in minutes, easily handle, manage, convert, and compress 3D content, and deliver that content anywhere. As the world around us continues to change, echoAR looks to support AR/VR developments that will better our our shared future.
echoAR (http://www.echoAR.xyz; Techstars ’19) is a cloud platform for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that provides tools and server-side infrastructure to help developers & companies quickly build and deploy AR/VR apps and experiences.