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Hi-tech home appliances can help police crack murder mysteries

news LONDON: Fridges, coffee makers, washing machines and lightbulbs could soon become vital witnesses in murder plots, according to a top Scotland Yard official.

The "internet of things" -- in which everyday devices have network connections -- will create a new kind of crime-scene investigation, said Mark Stokes, Scotland Yard's head of digital forensics.

Detectives are being trained to spot digital footprints that might track or record activities, providing a crucial insight into the last moments of a murder victim, evidence of false alibis or inconsistencies in witness statements.

Stokes, who heads the digital, cyber and communications forensics unit at the Metropolitan police, said as household objects became "smart", with built-in microchips and processors, crime investigators would be looking for far more than fingerprints.

He said that complicated devices would soon be commonplace in many homes.

"The crime scene of tomorrow is going to be the internet of things," Stokes was quoted as saying by the Times.

"A 3,000 pounds fridge with a built-in family hub in it will soon be 400 pounds," he said.

The new Samsung Family Hub fridge has cameras that carry a live feed of its contents, as well as a screen and built-in shared calendars, music player and a connected app.

Stokes said the dates and times logged on the machine, as well as images from the camera, could prove crucial in certain cases.

"Wireless cameras within a device such as the fridge may record the movement of suspects and owners," Stokes said.

"Doorbells that connect directly to apps on a user's phone can show who has rung the door and the owner or others may then remotely, if they choose to, give controlled access to the premises while away from the property. All these leave a log and a trace of activity," he said.

Stokes said there were plans to develop a digital forensics kit allowing investigators to analyse microchips and download data at the scene, rather than taking multiple devices away.

In the US, detectives want Amazon to hand over recordings from one of its Echo voice-controlled home entertainment systems. Amazon has twice declined requests for data from the device belonging to James Andrew Bates.

SOURCE: Economic Times

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