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A Landscape Study of 3D Crime Scene Scanning Devices

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2022

initially reported in January 2016 and updated in August 2018, this ”landscape” study provides the user with a basic understanding of 3D laser scanning instruments, including their use, benefits, and limitations.


This report was commissioned to highlight for the forensic community technology advances and new products related to 3D scanners for crime scenes. Since issuing the original report in January 2016, many of the featured manufacturers of 3D scanners have launched new and improved 3D scanners. These products provide significant advancements in user-friendliness, performance, and functionality. Improvements in simplifying the forensic application workflow are noted. On-site registration automatically compiles scans from the scene to streamline the cloud-to-cloud registration and intuitively assist in data collection. The devices can stitch together multiple scan point clouds in real time to warn users when additional scans are needed. Scanner poles add depth and improve scanning accuracy when the instrument is operating on flat or undistinguished terrain. Also, improvements in device quality reduce the number of scans required as the scanners automatically filter and reduce noise from the scans. Products manufactured with forensic application-specific design considerations increase the likelihood of success and ultimately bring greater confidence in instrument use. This update also provides new user impact stories, an overview of the technology advances in the 3D scanning field, and information on new scanners on the market. Case studies show how 3D scanners have facilitated successful prosecutions, multiagency collaboration and communication, valuable crime-scene perspectives for juries, and faster scene processing with an upgraded device.  



Date Published: April 15, 2022