VR in the Courtroom?

I was reading this article the other day:

Top 5 FAQ on Using Technology in Court

Now, originally, I was just going to share the article on Twitter because it’s pretty good all the way around, but then I got to the fifth one:

Oculus Rift: Coming to a Courtroom Near You?

Using virtual reality in the courtroom may not be as far off as you might think. The Oculus Rift and similar devices could potentially be used for scene reconstruction, virtual site visits, and other demonstrative exhibits and evidence viewing, or even manipulation. But are we ready for that yet? And would courts even allow it?

It’s interesting to consider. VR would make an easy, and inexpensive replacement for onsite visits, accident recreation and other things like that. I could see courts being anxious to use that to allow for juries to “see” and experience a site, or facts in the VR environment.

On the other hand, you would have to be really careful about how that environment was setup and who was creating it. I don’t know for a fact, but it seems to be that the technology could easily be used to manipulate jurors as well. From the outside looking in at VR technology, I can see it being used in highly manipulative ways, to influence people to believe certain “facts” based on how they are presented in the VR tool. That’s not great for the courtroom. So while the benefits may be great for using it, the risks are as well, and if we know anything about the legal world, it’s that it’s  highly allergic to risk. It’s going to take some time for lawyers and judges to buy into the impartiality of any given VR environment. Perhaps this is a good business opportunity for true third party agencies.

Does anyone out there working with VR want to chime in on the risks of using the programmed reality to manipulate how people see reality? I’d love to learn more about what the risks truly are instead of guessing from here.

Image by Guido van Nispen

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