Mobile markerless augmented reality and its application in forensic medicine

  • Thomas Kilgus
  • Eric Heim
  • Sven Haase
  • Sabine Prüfer
  • Michael Müller
  • Alexander Seitel
  • Markus Fangerau
  • Tamara Wiebe
  • Justin Iszatt
  • Heinz-Peter Schlemmer
  • Joachim Hornegger
  • Kathrin Yen
  • Lena Maier-Hein
Original Article



During autopsy, forensic pathologists today mostly rely on visible indication, tactile perception and experience to determine the cause of death. Although computed tomography (CT) data is often available for the bodies under examination, these data are rarely used due to the lack of radiological workstations in the pathological suite. The data may prevent the forensic pathologist from damaging evidence by allowing him to associate, for example, external wounds to internal injuries. To facilitate this, we propose a new multimodal approach for intuitive visualization of forensic data and evaluate its feasibility.


   A range camera is mounted on a tablet computer and positioned in a way such that the camera simultaneously captures depth and color information of the body. A server estimates the camera pose based on surface registration of CT and depth data to allow for augmented reality visualization of the internal anatomy directly on the tablet. Additionally, projection of color information onto the CT surface is implemented.


   We validated the system in a postmortem pilot study using fiducials attached to the skin for quantification of a mean target registration error of \(4.4 \pm 1.3\) mm.


   The system is mobile, markerless, intuitive and real-time capable with sufficient accuracy. It can support the forensic pathologist during autopsy with augmented reality and textured surfaces. Furthermore, the system enables multimodal documentation for presentation in court. Despite its preliminary prototype status, it has high potential due to its low price and simplicity.


Mobile augmented reality Forensic medicine Range imaging Kinect Iterative closest-point algorithm Mobile application Surface documentation 



This study was performed as part of the Research Training Group 1126 Intelligente Chirurgie and project PD 15577, both funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). We further thank all staff—the Division of Radiology of the German Cancer Research Center and the Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology in Heidelberg—who supported the phantom and postmortem experiments. Thanks go to our intern, Simon Weiser, for assisting in postmortem experiments.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (mp4 26146 KB)

Supplementary material 2 (mp4 14791 KB)

Supplementary material 3 (mp4 66602 KB)


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Copyright information

© CARS 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Kilgus
    • 1
  • Eric Heim
    • 1
  • Sven Haase
    • 5
  • Sabine Prüfer
    • 6
  • Michael Müller
    • 1
  • Alexander Seitel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Markus Fangerau
    • 3
  • Tamara Wiebe
    • 1
  • Justin Iszatt
    • 1
  • Heinz-Peter Schlemmer
    • 4
  • Joachim Hornegger
    • 5
  • Kathrin Yen
    • 6
  • Lena Maier-Hein
    • 1
  1. 1.Computer-Assisted InterventionsGerman Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)HeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Robotics and Control LaboratoryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Division of Medical and Biological InformaticDKFZHeidelbergGermany
  4. 4.Division of RadiologyDKFZHeidelbergGermany
  5. 5.Department of Computer Science, Pattern Recognition LabFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany
  6. 6.Institute for Forensic Medicine and Traffic MedicineHeidelberg University HospitalHeidelbergGermany

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