In the old days, police detectives and forensics specialists had to rely on logic and clues left at a crime scene to determine “who done it”. Today, however, technology is taking the place of old-school detective work. Here are some of the most promising technologies, most of which are already in use right now.

Laser Ablation Inductively Couples Plasma Mass Spectrometry

This machine can help police and investigators determine a weapon, like a gun, that was used at the scene of a crime. Specifically, it helps investigators piece together broken shards of glass. It can analyze the smallest fragment or shard from a person’s shirt, for example, and match it with glass at a crime scene to tell investigators the velocity, direction, and impact force of a bullet or some other object.

This is incredibly helpful when investigators arrive on the scene, but have no suspect or weapon linking the victim to a crime.

Alternative Light Photography

This special device can detect damage under the surface of the skin before it becomes visible. A camera, like an Omnichrome camera, uses a special blue light and orange filter to show bruising below the skin’s surface. This can help detectives assess how much damage was done to a victim before they’re taken into a hospital.

High-Speed Ballistics Photography

High-speed ballistics is an emerging science, and it’s one of the most advanced methods for determining how ballistics, like bullets, behave. Using a special high-speed camera, researchers can better understand how bullet holes or gunshot wounds are created.

They can also use the equipment to assess how glass breaks, how it would break under certain circumstances, and make predictive models.

In fact, predictive modeling is how many crimes are solved these days when investigators don’t have a suspect or the weapon involved in a crime. Murders are especially complicated because the victim can’t give testimony as to the events. The camera helps piece together what might have happened.

Digital Surveillance For Xbox

Because criminals are using game consoles, like the Xbox, to hide important incriminating evidence, forensic experts, like, often use special software and hardware to detect and extract such information.

Some software, like the XFT, can record and replay sessions in real-time. This is especially useful for investigators and prosecutors in the courtroom, where evidence needs to be shown to the judge or jury spontaneously or repeatedly in a clear and meaningful manner.

3D Facial Reconstruction

What could be cooler than 3D facial reconstruction? This unique technology isn’t the most reliable out there, but it’s one of the most cutting-edge. It attempts to take real-life human remains and reconstruct facial features to extrapolate a possible physical appearance. This could help identify victims of unsolved crimes.

For example, murders that took place years ago, and no one discovered the body until now, may be identified using this technology. Facial reconstruction could also prove useful in situations where bodies have been burned beyond recognition but need to be identified.

DNA Sequencer

A DNA sequencer is a more advanced tool that investigators turn to when they traditional DNA-based evidence is unreliable. For example, a forensics specialist might use a DNA profiling technique to identify criminals or victims using hair and skin analysis. But, when skin or hair samples are significantly degraded, forensics specialists turn to the more powerful DNA sequencer.

A sequencer can help piece together a person’s DNA from old bones or teeth, closing an investigation when other evidence is destroyed or unusable.

Magnetic Fingerprinting

Magnetic fingerprinting is a special technology that allows investigators to compare fingerprints lifted at a crime scene with a central database. Unlike fingerprint devices and methods of old, magnetic fingerprinting is “touchless.”

The investigator waves a wand over the area and picks up the necessary information. Then, that information can be transmitted either electronically or by hand. A central computer analyzed the prints and a match is usually found within minutes.

Link Analysis

When a crime involves money laundering or some other financial-based crime, a link analysis is necessary to traceroute the criminal’s activities. A link analysis software program can help piece together otherwise undetectable withdrawals and deposits, paper trails, electronic signals, and unusual financial transactions or behavior.

While not conclusive, unusual behavior may be indicative of a crime. The software can also assess the probability of criminal behavior, giving police and federal agencies the necessary information to investigate further or obtain a warrant.

Jared Stern, CEO and President of Prudential Associates, served in the U.S. Marines, gaining valuable investigative and risk-mitigating experience. A specialist in threat assessment, counter-measure development and crisis response, he has a thorough knowledge in U.S. and foreign intelligence operations, assault tactics and counter-terrorism. Mr. Stern is globally-recognized advisor on advanced risk management and you can find his posts mainly on technology, crime and forensic websites and blogs.