I've often rolled my eyes at the ridiculous technology used by CSI agents on TV, but the New York Times has revealed that as of 2009 the NYPD has started capturing 360-degree panoramic photos of crime scenes for future analysis.
While close-up photos are still an important tool for documenting evidence and clues, the use of the Panoscan camera gives investigators a way to study and analyse them in the context of the whole crime scene, well after it's been cleaned up. The NYPD has actually released a handful of these photos to the New York Times, who posted them, uncensored, in a gallery on their site. (Warning: if the sight of blood and the deceased aren't your thing, you'll probably want to skip it.)
Instead of using a bubble lens approach which results in a single image with limited resolution, the panoramas are assembled from multiple photos taken as the rig pans all the way around a scene. And the use of HDRI imaging allows additional details to come to light when the photos are further processed in software like Photoshop. Word has it that NYPD investigators have started dramatically taking off their sunglasses and trading terrible puns when they get to the scene, but that's unconfirmed at this time. [NY Times via Coudal]
Photo: New York Police Department via The New York Times