Thursday, 4 February 2016

3D Cultural Heritage Data: Improving access and exploitation

For over a decade the Discovery Programme has been capturing and modelling 3D data for a range of archaeological and cultural heritage sites including lidar, terrestrial laser scanning and close range documentation.  One of the issues in sharing this data with the wider community was the requirement of expensive IT equipment and software and the challenge in delivering large complex geometries which do not conform easily to primitive modelling.  Over the past four years the Discovery Programme has participated in several European projects including 3D-ICONS and ARIADNE which aim to open up access to this and other research data.

 3D model of Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, Ireland delivered online utilising SketchFab

Discovery Programme Technology Manager, Anthony Corns, will explore the processing pipeline developed by the Discovery Programme in making complex 3D structure available to the public using a combination of gaming modelling and online WebGL 3D viewers. An alternative pipeline will also be outlined which utilised the 3D media service developed by CNR-ISTI as part of the ARIADNE project which is more focussed upon reuse of 3D data by researchers.

                                                Internal view of Knowth passage tomb utilising Unity gaming development tools

The 3D-Icons project officially ended as an EU funded project in March 2015. However, the Discovery Programme has since taken the content produced as part of this project and looked to exploit it with several sectors, including:

Research:  How do we ensure that 3D data is utilised for scholarly research by a profession which may be averse to utilising new technologies?

Tourism:  Development of content to improve the tourist experience at cultural heritage sites, including the Brú na Bóinne world heritage site where the Discovery programme is currently developing an immersive experience for the Neolithic passage tomb at Knowth.

Education: Utilising 3D models as a teaching resources in secondary schools both in History but also across the curriculum

Creative Industries: Developing links and relationships with organisations that can utilise cultural heritage datasets using innovative and state of the art methods.

This paper will also comment on some of the challenges and opportunities that exist when working with this diverse range of sectors.

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