“Part of the purpose of this was to learn what other capabilities ECBC has that could be useful to law enforcement,” Cook said. “It’s to see if and how we could partner with ECBC, what we could do for ECBC, and what ECBC can do for us.”
During a tour of one of ECBCs’ facilities, led by Moore, Cook and his colleagues learned about ECBC’s capabilities in the fields of computer animation, augmented and virtual reality, and 3D printing.
Cook pointed to a few of ECBC’s capabilities, like augmented reality and virtual reality tools, as areas where he saw tangible possibilities for law enforcement use.
“The virtual reality training tool for high risk entries, that would be an area where I see a certain law enforcement value,” he said.
In virtual reality, users are immersed into a digital environment. Augmented reality is slightly different; instead of being immersed into a digital environment, users have their environment augmented with digital overlays.
With knowledge of the building’s design, investigators could create a replica in virtual reality for officers to undergo entry training. Augmented reality could be used to include details as the mission is underway.
Computer animation is also being used to create a digital library of firearms and potential modifications to them, another tool that could prove useful to law enforcement. Moore said the potential exists for computer animation to generate facial likeness, should operators have the knowledge and experience to do so.
Moore said he sees a wealth of opportunity in a partnership with Maryland State Police. In fact, the state police plan on inviting ECBC to a crime scene to see what ECBC can do in the field.
“They want to take us to a crime scene location and use our equipment to capture 3D imaging,” Moore explained. “From that, they can basically capture measurable 3D data that they can use to potentially reveal facts or help solve the case.”
That information could be used to determine the trajectory and origin point of a fired bullet without physically touching any part of the crime scene.
Moore noted that ECBC already has a partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
Doug Brunelle, branch chief of visual information services for ATF, said the partnership has been valuable. He said ATF’s partnership with ECBC led to a better way of collecting shell casings for identification and testing.
What ECBC provides, he said, is a wide range of technologies and expertise all available under one roof.
“You’re not going to find all this under one roof in the commercial market,” he said. “Here you have everything you need in one place.”
Moore said a partnership with the Maryland State Police would be mutually beneficial.
“That’s the ultimate goal, for them to prove that this works for them,” he said. “For us, it’s just a matter of using our capabilities in a different way from our usual use, which could build readiness for the U.S. Army.”