This Ain't It, Chief

CrimeDoor thinks AR is the secret to solving famous murders

What do you mean you've never wanted to watch JonBenet Ramsey get murdered in your living room?

A businesswoman is reading an e-mail from a coworker. She's feeling surprised in a negative way.
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In the last few years, we’ve seen an enormous uptick in augmented reality innovation. Every corner of the tech industry, from gaming to audio to automotive, is pushing for more immersive experiences in our daily lives. But this wide berth doesn’t mean AR should necessarily be limitless.

Case in point: CrimeDoor, a company bringing historical murders to life in your living room. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to witness the crucifixion of Jesus Christ while making your afternoon coffee? Or perhaps you’re more inclined to watch the murders of JonBenet Ramsey or George Floyd between rerun episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Yeah, those are real use cases for CrimeDoor’s app.

CrimeDoor is certainly pushing the boundaries of both augmented reality and the true crime market — just not in a way that’s actually useful or exciting. Really it just borders on disturbing and unethical.

What’s the point of this, exactly? — The bulk of the CrimeDoor app is dedicated to re-telling true crime stories. This in itself isn’t all that interesting; the true crime market is enormous, with thousands of hours of podcasts and television shows dedicated to the subject. Where CrimeDoor diverges is its new AR experiences, which re-create famous murders in 3D.

From the CrimeDoor home page.

We have one main question: why? To this the company doesn’t even seem to have a solid answer for itself. In a recent press release, CrimeDoor founder Neil Mandt said that the company sees AR as a way for its users to “share the experience of these significant stories.” But then the company’s website posits that CrimeDoor’s AR will actually allow users to solve the crimes depicted within it.

So here’s the pitch: the world’s top forensic scientists haven’t been able to resolve the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, but maybe you will be able to do so, once you watch it play out in your living room.

Cancelled — Faced with backlash across the internet, CrimeDoor has reportedly cancelled its plan to include an AR experience based on George Floyd’s death. A company representative told Variety that the announcement sent out was a “very early and unapproved draft.”

“While George Floyd was at one point discussed internally as a current moment that would go down in history due to the crime’s nature and societal impact, the CrimeDoor team decided that [the Floyd killing] was too sensitive and the timing did not feel right to feature it,” the spokesperson said. “No case profile or AR door has been created around this, and there is no plan to launch this currently.”

This is literally out of Cyberpunk 2077 CrimeDoor sounds like something out of a messy dystopian video game. And, as Washington Post reporter Gene Park points out on Twitter, it actually is — there’s a very similar plot point in the dumpster fire known as Cyberpunk 2077.

As if this weren’t ridiculous enough, CrimeDoor has also decided to sell the full version of the AR crucifixion as a limited-edition NFT. Great.

And don’t even get us started on this list. You really think it’s a good idea to put the murder of George Floyd on full, immersive display less than a year after it happened (or ever)? Phew.

Updated 4/8/21 to include the cancellation of the George Floyd experience.