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Virtual reality technology enters a Chinese courtroom

The era of virtual reality has arrived. The evolving technology has revolutionized the way we game, the way we travel, and the way we consume news. And now, Chinese courtrooms are seeing the potential of employing it to advance the practice of law.

On Thursday, March 1, at a courtroom in Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, a man surnamed Dong became the first person in China using virtual reality technology to revisit a crime scene from last September, where he was the only witness at the scene.

Wearing a VR headset and with his hands on a console, Dong immersed himself in the middle of the scene, while a projector screen in front of him simultaneously showed what he saw to everyone in the courtroom, including judges and lawyers.

Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 3.46.30 PM

Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 3.47.19 PM

The case that Dong is testifying about, according to Legal Daily, concerns a 30-year-old suspect named Zhang who is charged with murder. On September 13, 2017, the suspect came to an office building in Haidian District in Beijing to argue with his 19-year-old girlfriend, Liu. During the dispute, Zhang stabbed Liu to death after he cut himself with a knife three times.

“I was standing behind Liu at that time. Zhang was asking something from Liu. And then he started to injure himself,” said Dong, the victim’s colleague, while using the console to explore the simulated environment.

Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 3.47.04 PM

The introduction of VR technology is part of a “courtroom evidence visualization system” developed by the local court. The system also includes a newly developed computer program that allows lawyers to present evidence with higher quality and efficiency, which will replace a traditional PowerPoint slideshow.

It is reported that the system will soon be implemented in courtrooms across the city of Beijing.

Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

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