Simulations and immersive technology like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have seen use in various areas, including crime scene reconstruction. The New York Times has used that technology to present the evidence that the Syrian government is engaging in chemical warfare against its own population.
The New York Times has previously used AR to engage with its audience and show things such as information about the various Mars exploration projects. The subject matter on this occasion was much darker, an attempt to recreate the scene where a chemical attack took place.
Despite multiple reports that Syrian military helicopters dropped a chlorine bomb on an apartment building in the town of Douma, near Damascus, Syrian authorities and their allies in Russia denied the attack took place.
In order to prove otherwise, The New York Times teamed up with Goldsmiths, the University of London research agency and Forensic Architecture to comb through various reports and videos of the site in search of forensic evidence that the attack, which is said to have killed 49 people, did indeed take place.
The result of this work allowed for a virtual crime scene to be constructed. This enabled experts to inspect how the bomb related to the objects around it, examine the architecture of the building and see the damage that had been caused, looking for clues.
The results of this painstaking work allowed the New York Times and its partnership agencies to conclude that the bomb had not been planted, as officials claimed, but was instead dropped from a Syrian military helicopter, and that chlorine was involved, vindicating eyewitnesses and victims who initially reported what happened.
While a simplified version of the New York Times feature is available by accessing the NYT website, the full AR experience is available by using the NYTimes app, which can be found on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
For future coverage of new and innovative uses of AR technology, keep checking back with VRFocus.