Forensic science and crime scene investigators are using technology more than ever before. To solve crimes, the investigators are using futuristic technologies that you have only seen in Hollywood movies and web series till now. Forensic science is making progress by leaps and bounds to contain homicide and other crimes. Sometimes the tools are so advanced that they are scary to believe. It seems the days are not far when Sci-Fi movies such as Minority Report and Inception may come true.
Now, let’s check some of the top 11 modern technologies used by the forensic and crime scene investigators.
1. DNA Phenotyping
DNA Phenotyping helps forensic experts combine genomics and computer power to generate a police sketch of a person from a single DNA specimen, found from a crime scene. A human cell contains 23 chromosome pairs that code all our outwardly visible appearance.
Computers help in generating trait probabilities by decoding a DNA. This modern technological advancement can determine sex, red/black/blond/brown hair, brown eyes, and adult height with an accuracy of around 90% or above. Age, dimples, earlobe attachment/lack thereof, skin colour, freckling, Cleft lip/palette, and male pattern baldness can be determined with up to 70% accuracy.
2. Hair Bacteria Assessment
Scientists have found out that in case of sexual contact between two individuals (either forced or with consent), microbe populations in their hair samples get mixed. In case a match is found in the microbe population of both the victim and the criminal suspect, it becomes easier to prove who the culprit is.
3. Time-Tracing Fingerprint Technology
With the availability of this advanced fingerprint technology, the crime investigators can find out the timeframe when a fingerprint was left behind, thereby helping to eliminate the innocent suspects who left the scene of crime long before crime was committed.
4. Technology using Stable Isotopes of Water for Geo-locating a Suspect or Victim
A person’s travel history or home city can be learned by analyzing stable isotopes of water, present in a single hair found from the crime scene.
Water is made up of two molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen, i.e. H20. Usually, an atom of oxygen consists of 8 protons and 8 neutrons. A hydrogen atom consists of 1 proton and 1 neutron. Isotopes are formed when oxygen and hydrogen atoms either have more or fewer neutrons. Unlike radioactive isotopes, these isotopes do not decay and that’s why they are known as stable isotopes.
Every water body or regions of water have a different combination/percentage of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes. Therefore, a forensic expert can determine the location history or hometown of a person by cross-checking the percentages of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes found in a hair sample from the crime scene with that of the known isotopic measurements in municipal drinking water from cities.
5. 3-D Photography Technology
Jurors and others find it difficult to properly examine the crime scene/morgue photographs because these 2-dimensional photographs don’t show the intricate details of relevant internal damage, old/repeated injury marks, and others on a corpse. New and advanced 3-D Photography forensic technology uses image layering, which helps crime scene investigators analyze more closely about the crime and consequently share more evidence with the jurors.
6. Forensic Palynology
Pollens are microscopic seeds, which can survive extreme temperatures and also pass through the digestive system in an unscathed manner (without being affected by the hydrochloric acid). Many mysteries can be revealed by the fossilized pollen as they are highly durable. Pollen analysis with the help of computers and DNA analysis, known as DNA metabarcoding, can provide a time-stamped geographic fingerprint to a piece of evidence.
7. Computer-based Facial Reconstruction
Even if the appearance of a victim is damaged or decomposed, forensic software can be fed with user inputs data (especially remains of the decomposed/damaged human body) so that the facial/physical appearance of the person can be deducted or reconstructed.
8. Alternative Light Photography
A specialized camera uses blue light and orange filters to view whether any bruising has taken place below the surface of the skin. This helps the forensic nurses to detect body damage even before it has surfaced on the skin.
9. Automated Fingerprint Identification
Magnetic fingerprinting dust enables forensic investigators to get a perfect fingerprint impression without compromising. Once a perfect fingerprint is found, the forensic scientists can feed the data in specialized software for comparing it with the match of an extensive digital database of fingerprints of millions or even billions of people.
Integrated Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and Micro-X-Ray Fluorescence (MXRF) are some of the advanced latent print analysis used by forensic experts.
10. Drug Testing
Forensic experts carry out a wide array of tests such as colour testing, ultraviolet spectrophotometry, and microcrystalline testing for determining unknown substances, no matter whether they are available in pill, liquid, or powder form.
11. Link Analysis Software
This software helps financial investigators in tracking funds, especially any strange financial activity found in the paper trail. The financial transactions of a person are analyzed by the Enter Link Analysis Software (with the help of statistical models) for finding out possible illegal financial behavior.
Forensics technology is witnessing a paradigm shift in its approach to solving homicide and other crimes. It seems the science fiction stories of a few decades back will come true in real life in the not-too-distant future.