Forensic Science Evolution

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forensic science evolution, counterfeit protection, SignaKey, Clawson, MI

Forensic Science Evolution

The ancient world lacked standardized forensic practices which sometimes enabled criminals to escape punishment. Criminal investigations and trials of the time relied heavily on forced confessions and witness testimony.

In 1794. with one of the first documented examples of forensic science, John Toms was tried and convicted for murdering Edward Culshaw with a pistol. When Culshaw’s dead body was examined, a pistol wad (crushed paper to secure powder and ball in the muzzle) found in his head wound matched perfectly with a torn newspaper found in Tom’s pocket, leading to his conviction.

By 1800 Hans Gross applied scientific methods to crime scenes and was responsible for the birth of modern criminologists. Gross proposed that “whenever two objects come into contact with one another, materials are exchanged between them.” This concept means that every contact with anything by a criminal leaves a trace.

The late 20th century brought the first convictions using DNA matching. Today documenting forensics has become much more efficient with 3D point clouds of crime scenes, scanners, drones, and photogrammetry.

Despite all these advances in forensic science, the issue of securely moving evidence from: the crime scene, to the police agency’s evidence room, to the state’s forensic lab for analysis, back to the evidence lab, and finally to the trial court, has remained unchanged for 75-years. Any loss of trace continuity, or simple human error, could result in a dismissal.

Using the SignaKey digital chain-of-custody solution eliminates that issue.

To explain that, it is assumed that the investigator has control of the secure site and has logged into the SignaKey crime scene App on his registered Smartphone. That login captures the case number, officer information, time stamp, and geolocation. The investigator will have a supply of three different sizes of clear plastic bags, each with a large printed unique SignaKey, and a supply of similarly prepared evidence tags for items too large to bag.


After the first piece of evidence is located and identified with the standard numbered crime scene evidence marker (“Tent”), the Investigator scans the SignaKey on the tamper evident bag with the Smartphone. Without changing location, the investigator is prompted by the App to capture an image of the evidence and Tent. This image is automatically appended to the SignaKey record.

At this beginning stage, the default record would include:

• Date/time.
• Officer identity.
• Agency Name.
• Case Number.
• Evidence number.
• Brief description of evidence (from drop-down).
• Precise geospatial location of evidence.
• Google street map including the Investigators location.

The evidence item is then placed in a clear plastic bag which is immediately sealed.

This decode of the SignaKey, is the first action in establishing this item’s digital chain-of-custody chronological history. More history is appended to that record with each change of custody and subsequent scans by a person or entity, i.e., evidence room, state lab, courtroom, etc.

After transporting evidence from one site to another, the receiving party must first confirm that the tamper evident bag seal is intact before accepting and scanning.


Digital Transformation


Bullet Track & Trace