Standardizing visual inspection methods within forensic science - UCL

Researchers from University College London (UCL) are using eye tracking to understand how personal biases and context influence the interpretation of evidence in a bid to standardize visual assessment methods in forensic science.

The background

Despite what you see on TV, forensic science is not black and white and many conclusions are derived from human interpretation not definitive scientific facts.

The method

Tobii Pro Insight is helping run a qualitative eye tracking research project for UCL’s Department of Security and Crime Science Centre for the Forensic Sciences to establish what factors influence varied interpretation and ways to remedy this. It’s examining the visual strategy of beginner, intermediate, and expert forensic anthropologists to reveal objective insights on their cognitive processes while examining a set of skeletal remains.

Several variables are being examined including, years of experience within the field and within the methods used in forensic anthropology. The study is also exploring how the eye tracking data may be used to better explain tacit knowledge from experts and impart this on to beginners. 

Tobii Pro Glasses 2 wearable eye tracking is used for optimizing visual inspection routines in forensic science

The conclusion

forensics study at ucl security and crime science

This initial pilot study is the first to use eye-trackers as a tool in order to study gaze pattern strategies involved in the assessment of skeletal remains. Notwithstanding the limitations of an initial study, the preliminary results of this study show how eye tracking data could be used successfully to further understand how experienced practitioners within the field of forensic anthropology go about the same task and the attributes of expert decision making that can be identified to inform training and continuing personal development.

Read the full study:

The value of eye-tracking technology in the analysis and interpretations of skeletal remains: A pilot study.

“I think that eye tracking adds that extra layer of understanding human performance in a way that we previously didn’t have and Tobii Pro has helped tremendously with helping us to understand the data we are collecting.”