In what could be the first case of its kind, the data that is recorded by a fitness watch has been used to disprove accusations of rape levelled by a woman in America. While it certainly isn’t the first time that electronic data has been gathered, forensically analysed, and used in a case, it is the first time that physiological data gathered from this type of device has been used, and certainly in this type of case.
Fitness watches have become increasingly popular as a means of tracking workout and physical data. They can be used to record everything from GPS locations, in order to show walking or cycling routes, to pulse and heart rate levels. More recently, smartwatches have taken over the mantle, and these will presumably also carry considerably more data that might prove useful in similar circumstances in the future.
Mobile phone, laptop, and other computer data has long been analysed forensically in order to prove or disprove accusations and crimes. These devices contain a lot of communication data, and they can also be used to help develop a character portrait of a person, by showing what they do, the types of website they visit, how long they are online and more.
In the UK, police are encouraged to collect mobile phones following car accidents, so that they can use the data to determine whether a driver was on the phone or using their mobile phone at the time leading up to the accident. Even if call details have been deleted, forensic computer analysts can still determine whether the phone was being used, by querying local call towers and requesting details from mobile phone operators.
In the case in question, a woman claimed that she was staying in the spare room of her boss’s house when she was attacked by an unknown assailant, and taken to a nearby bathroom and raped. Her fitness watch, however, showed that she had been up and walking around all night and not asleep as she had previously stated. This, combined with other inconsistencies in her story, have led police to charge the woman.