3D Scanning in the Preservation of Cultural Heritage

Use-It-Wisely partner, Björn Johansson from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, was recently involved in AAAS 2016, the Global Science Engagement in Washington DC. Björn organised a meeting at the conference examining the role of 3D scanning in the preservation of cultural heritage.

3D scanning is currently playing an important role in the UIW project in the context of change management in a factory setting. Chalmers University of Technology and Volvo are working together to create 3D visualisations of different scenarios and layouts of the factory floor. This allows for more informed decision making when changes have to be made in a manufacturing and industrial settings.

Jonatan 3Dscanning

Photo: Johan Stahre
By scanning millions of points in a factory building, you can build a realistic 3D environment on your computer. When using this point cloud technology, you can compare the “reality” with drawings or visit the factories on the other side of the world without leaving the office. Jonatan Berglund, Chalmers, illustrates an example

In this meeting, Björn invited speakers on 3D scanning technology and concepts to a very different sector. 3D scanning was examined from the perspective of protecting cultural heritage sites and artefacts. Volvo’s Jan-Eric Sundgren set the scene for the discussion with an overview of how Volvo uses 3D scanning. Jan-Eric explained that 3D scanning allows for more efficient resource utilisation in manufacturing of products. As customer and society demands are changing rapidly, 3D scanning offers an efficient way to adapt.

Katsushi Ikeuchi, Microsoft Research, Japan presented 3D scanning applied to cultural heritage. He has been leading the work on the Bayon temple, at the Angkor ruin in Cambodia. The central tower of the temple is at risk of collapse, and 3D modelling and digitisation will allow more detailed analysis and an increased chance of preserving the tower. In this case, 3D scanning and digitisation will also facilitate archaeological research.

University of South Florida Professor, Lori Collins, discussed the importance of digital scanning and 3D printing technologies in sharing, interpreting and preserving archaeological data globally. Her session focused on her recent global heritage documentation and education projects in Guatemala, Mexico, Europe and the US.

Commenting after the meeting, organiser Björn Johansson said:

“It is astonishing how a realistic 3D scan can preserve the past and predict the future in both geometry and colour.”

The event was co-organised by Ram D. Sriram, National Institute of Standards and Technology and Ramesh Jain, University of California, Irvine. The event discussant was Adam Metallo of the Smithsonian Institution.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting is interdisciplinary and inclusive. Each year, thousands of leading scientists, engineers, educators, policymakers, and journalists gather together to discuss recent developments in science and technology.

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