Belfast technology company Immersal is using virtual reality to help crime victims and witnesses prepare for the difficult experience of giving evidence in court.
Specializing in designing “self-created, immersive training experiences,” the startup enables individuals to converse with members of the judicial process in a simulated digital environment.
Preparing for a day in court
meta news previously reported Learn how a Colombian court conducted judicial hearings in a VR environment. However, Immersonal’s software aims to help victims and witnesses prepare mentally and emotionally for a real courtroom.
It was founded two years ago by the directors of Sentireal, one of the UK’s top VR and AR software developers. impersonal has already secured two large contracts for using the software in legal settings. One of them, worth £500,000, will be rolled out in 52 Scottish courts over the next 12 months. In another, the same software will be piloted in The Hague as part of the International Criminal Court, with the Foreign Federal Development Agency.
“Going to court can be intimidating, but with this technology, you can walk through a three-dimensional world that mimics the actual courthouse building where lawsuits take place,” says Tom Houston, CEO of Immersonal. said. Said BBC.
“You can interact in a virtual environment that includes the people and objects you encounter during a case.”
Two years in the making, Immersal’s software simplifies the process for users to create VR experiences, removing the need for an on-hand software development team. Therefore, even non-technical users can create advanced VR simulations that can be used on various platforms.
“We’re giving ordinary people, not software developers, the opportunity to create virtual reality experiences,” explains Tom Houston.
Future Criminal Justice System
Ahead of the court rollout, Houston revealed that Immersonal had been working with Victim Support Scotland and CivTech, a digital and economic initiative set up by the Scottish government, to build and test prototypes.
“To now see it alive and active in the hands of users and the benefits they derive from it is an incredibly satisfying experience for the entire Immersonal team,” Houston said.
Such benefits can be felt strongly by vulnerable witnesses and crime victims, especially those who are shy or suffer from anxiety. You can familiarize yourself with the setting, the people, and the process from the comfort of your home.
Northern Ireland’s Victims of Crime Commissioner, Geraldine Hannah, told the BBC: “The development of the use of virtual reality in the criminal justice system is like the next step in our journey to improve the victim’s experience. I feel it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Houston said Immersonal is already in talks with police in the UK who are considering using the software in schools to combat bullying, drugs and gangs.
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