In partnership with a 3D laser-scanning nonprofit called CyArk, Google Arts & Culture began the Open Heritage Project, a new chapter for historic preservation in the form of virtual reality. By using advanced 3D laser scanning technology, high-res drone photography, and DSLR cameras, CyArk can virtually recreate historic architecture to be more easily explored and restored.
Cyark: The Latest Architecture and News
In 2001, the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan using dynamite, anti-aircraft guns, and artillery. After weeks of incremental destruction, nothing of the statues remained.
That sad turn of events was the impetus for the founding of CyArk, a nonprofit that uses technology to ensure sites of rich cultural heritage remain available to future generations. Since 2003, they have used laser scanning, photography, photogrammetry, and 3D capture to record nearly 200 sites around the globe.
If you haven't heard of CyArk yet, make sure to check out their recent Kickstarter project. The not-for-profit company digitally preserves some of the world's most important sites: including Easter Island, Mt. Rushmore and The Pantheon, to name a few. Now the group is headed to New York to preserve Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin's 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion. Since the fair ended, the pavilion has fallen into disrepair and been heavily vandalized. With assistance from the University of Central Florida, they plan to release the digitally preserved 3D files to the public, for free. To help preserve this "National Treasure," check out their Kickstarter page.
CyArk, a non-for-profit 3D laser scanning organization, is scanning the world's greatest monuments, hoping to preserve over 500 cultural heritage sites around the globe, The Independent reports. The portable laser system creates such a detailed, digital blueprint of structures and ruins that each building can then be reproduced in 3D, with a margin of error of only two millimeters. So far, the statues of Easter Island, the Tower of London, Mount Rushmore, the Tower of Pisa have been preserved. Check out more about the technology in Ben Kacyra's TED Talk.
From the archeological areas of Stonehenge to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Google’s World Wonders Project is dedicated to digitally preserving and virtually sharing the World’s Heritage Sites. Users can explore some of the world’s greatest places through panoramic images, 3D laser scanned models, videos and informative text. Although Google World Wonders is a new and ongoing project, they already have more than 130 sites in 18 countries featured. The project is also an educational resource, allowing students and scholars to use the materials to discover some of the most famous sites on earth. A selection of free educational packages are available to download for classroom use.