Oct 30, 2015 | By Kira

One of the greatest old-world-meets-new applications of 3D scanning and 3D printing technology is the potential for cultural and historical preservation. The ability to document and preserve precious artifacts in their current state, including distinctive marks, surface textures and coloration all in the finest of detail, means that even with the passing of time, natural disasters, or damage, future generations can appreciate and learn from the past. When he was just 17 years old, Quang Tri Nguyen recognized the importance of preserving Vietnamese culture—one of the oldest in Southeast Asia—and went so far as to drop out of school to dedicate his life to 3D scanning, documenting, and publishing digital 3D models of ancient Vietnamese sculptures on his website, VR3D.

Now in his 20s, Nguyen has further developed his 3D scanning empire, and has launched an advanced Virtual 3D Museum of the ancient scultpures of Vietnam for visitors around the world to experience Vietnamese history firsthand. Modeled after a professional exhibition space, the digital 3D museum allows users to move freely around as though they were there in real life just by clicking and dragging their mouse, and actually interact with the 3D scanned models of Vietnamese relics in ways simply not possible in regular museums. He has also optimized the website on the HTML5 platform so users can access it and interact from nearly any device, from smartphones to smartTVs, without the need for installing additional apps, plugins or software.

Whereas his previous project, which we wrote about in January, exhibited individual 3D scanned models, theVR3D Virtual Museum is meant to be a full-on experience. And, while other museums have utilized digital imaging to create ‘360° panoramas’ of physical museum spaces, Nguyen told 3Ders.org that his 3D models are more realistic, and allow users more options for interaction. “The biggest difference between our Virtual 3D Museum and other 360° panoramas is that our technology is 3D, not images,” he said. The benefits of this are that users can move around freely, select which model they would like to see, and then rotate and even zoom in to see the photorealistic details captured by the 3D scanners. Clicking on the model also reveals a caption, with notes about the historical significance of the model (for now, these captions are mostly in Vietnamese). Nguyen also added that the 3D museum does not create the same spatial distortion as 360° panoramas.

Users can navigate the Virtual 3D Museum by clicking and dragging their mouse to move around the in the direction of their choice

Nguyen told us that in order to capture the most detailed and realistic 3D models possible, he uses custom-built 3D scanning hardware that combines structured-light, laser, and photography to reach the best results in terms of both mesh and texture quality. He hopes to commercialize his technology so that real museums can take advantage of it, utilizing 3D scanning technology to open their collections to the wider public. His work has received support from researchers and art historians, who helped provide him with information about the antiques, such as their names and places of origin.

The benefits of Virtual Museums, Nguyen told us, is that not only are they are more interesting way to promote the museum, but in the 3D scanning process, each artifact is automatically archived and protected against the ravages of time. The 3D models can be accessed by teachers or researchers, used as a reference source for restoration, or, if the museum were to make the 3D files available (either free, or at a pay-per-use or membership fee), they could even be 3D printed by educational institutions, giving students true, hands-on learning whether they are actually near the artifact, or oceans away.

A final advantage is that physical museums are finite spaces, and often can’t display their full collection either due to lack of space or the high cost of maintaining and protecting large, delicate or rare artifacts. In a digital environment, however, space is unlimited, and the original is well protected.

Moving forward, Nguyen plans to provide a complete 3D scanning and digitizing service, not only for Museums, but for other companies with galleries, showrooms, product displays, or trade promotion. Additional applications include healthcare and education (a 3D digital library of medical tools, or even human organs, for example, used to train new doctors).

Most importantly for now, he and his family are working hard to 3D scan and preserve as many ancient Vietnamese relics as possible in order to disseminate knowledge and understanding about his culture, and allow future generations to research, restore and replicate these priceless cultural antiques.

“My parents like the project and have always helped and supported me to do it. They are also people who love our cultural heritage and are inspirations for me,” Ngueyn told 3Ders.org when asked about whether they were still happy he quit school to develop VR3D. “We’re proud of every model we have preserved because every model is a part of our cultural heritage, and we are contributing to conserving it.”

Quang Tri Nguyen

Recently, the UAE recognized a similar need to preserve their cultural history, and launched a global partnership between UNESCO, the Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation, and the Institute for Digital Archaeology to document and preserve Middle Eastern heritage monuments through 3D imaging and 3D printing technology. From a different historical perspective, 3D scanning and printing allowed scientists to reconstruct a skeletal model of a newly discovered dinosaur for the very first time. In more ways than one, 3D printing is a technology of the future that will increasingly help us preserve, understand, and restore the past.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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Fishy wrote at 10/31/2015 6:51:46 PM:

Very impressive... I hope this guy can continue fulfilling his dream in preserving the pass of Vietnam. He is such a brave young guy

Fishy wrote at 10/31/2015 6:50:00 PM:

Very impressive... I hope this guy can continue fulfilling his dream in preserving the pass of Vietnam. He is such a brave young guy

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