Oct. 8, 2014

Heritage sites are a significant part of our collective memory and we are losing them at an alarming rate. Using pioneering 3D laser scanning and web technologies, Microsoft has partnered with CyArk, a nonprofit organization to create a brand new website that showcases the world's most treasured cultural sites. Based on 3D models scanned and built by CyArk, the brand new CyArk.org will feature a number of sites in 3D.

The new site utilizes advanced hardware acceleration and WebGL – a web technology that allows users to enjoy 3D content usually limited to apps but here it is brought to a browser as well. The 3D models, that are accurate down to the half inch, are best viewed in Internet Explorer.

This move is part of Microsoft's Rethink campaign to encourage everyone to rethink what the web can be. It looks to revamp its reputation and push the boundaries of what's possible with the web.

CyArk and its partners are on a mission to save these cultural heritage sites digitally before more are ravaged by war, terrorism, arson, urban sprawl, climate change, earthquakes, floods, and other threats.

The Oakland, Calif. company previously launched a Kickstarter project for the 3D digital preservation of the 1964-65 World's Fair New York State Pavilion's Tent of Tomorrow and Astro-Towers in May. The project was successfully funded on June 1, raising $15,742 from 121 backers.

This time, CyArk's ambitious goal is to digitally preserve 500 cultural heritage sites within the next five years.

CyArk has already completed 40 projects toward its goal of 500. These sites, called the Exemplar Projects, include Pompeii, Babylon, Mt. Rushmore, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Titanic, the Sydney Opera House and, most recently, the Tower of London.

CyArk invites members of the heritage community, interested governments, organizations and individuals to submit sites for consideration to be included in the CyArk 500. Submissions will be evaluated by the CyArk 500 Advisory Council for selection as part of the 500.

Microsoft said:

Similar to other Rethink experiences, the new CyArk.org is more than just a showcase of one technology or browser, it is a real-world site that takes what folks do on the web today and transforms it into something more beautiful and engaging through the power of modern and open web standards. And that is what IE is all about, creating real world, forward-thinking sites that let you experience the best touch browsing on a tablet, hardware-accelerated 3D Web graphics, and fast and responsive app-like performance.

Microsoft hopes that this project will 'pass along a deep appreciation for these world heritage sites and contribute to an enduring digital archive that will survive for future generations.'

Interestingly, Nokia has also partnered with CyArk using its HERE True Technology mapping system to create realistic models of cities using panoramic cameras with a Lidar laser scanner and GPS sensor. They have used the technology to capture the city of Philadelphia. Watch the video below:

Posted in 3D Scanning

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