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Digitization of Cultural Heritage

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- Cultural Heritage and Digital Economy

Digitization makes cultural resources an important part of the digital economy, providing a competitive advantage for cultural and creative industries that support employment and stimulate innovation potential in other fields. As an investment in value-added products and services, the digitization and online accessibility of cultural resources can drive innovation in areas such as tourism, education, architecture, design, publishing, advertising or gaming. In addition, it enables the rich cultural heritage to be clearly displayed on the Internet, promotes regional development, preserves cultural diversity, and contributes to improving the quality of life.

Digitization and online accessibility have brought greater visibility to the collections of museums, libraries and archives. This attracts not only new tourists, tourists and researchers, but also business from the regional economy. However, currently (2020) only 15% of the world's cultural heritage is available in digital format.


- Preservation of Cultural Heritage

No matter how well protected and preserved, the vast majority of ancient cultural relics and sites are naturally susceptible to corrosion due to age. In addition, there have been unexpected natural and man-made catastrophic events, such as the recent fires that engulfed the 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil and its collections and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Notre-Dame de Paris, France. Once a heritage site is lost, damaged or destroyed, the restoration process can be slow, if at all possible. Other obstacles could arise, such as the 2015 reconstruction of Rani Pokhari in Nepal, when contractors were found guilty of using cement instead of traditional materials to cut costs. Not only is this unfair to the culture and history that has been embodied in the heritage for thousands of years, but it puts the site at even greater risk if a catastrophic situation occurs again. 

In the wake of such disasters, there are growing calls and movements to digitize cultural heritage to protect them against potential hazards such as climate change, natural disasters, poor policies or inadequate infrastructure. In addition to moving physical objects to more secure repositories, the Library of Congress has also begun digitizing audio and video recordings from the early 20th century that it collects at the Center for Audiovisual Conservation. Since 2013, the Smithsonian has also actively digitized its collections with the release of the Smithsonian X 3D Explorer, which enables audiences to interact with digitized versions of the museum's 137 million artifacts, only 2 percent of which are on display. While technologies that can extend the lifespan of cultural heritage are developing rapidly, the process of repositioning each artifact for 3D scanning is time-consuming. Even large institutions — like the Smithsonian Institution — are struggling.


- The CultLab3D Tool

The development of CultLab3D in Germany has transformed the digitization process by utilizing multiple cameras and ultrasound for accelerated, automated, multi-dimensional analysis during the scanning process. CultLab3D's 3D scanning technology captures a wide variety of objects by combining collected geometric, texture, and material property data down to the micrometer scale. The scanned workpieces are placed on a conveyor belt and run through an automated process that analyzes them before the "scanning arc" and "robot arm" fill in the missing parts.

The innovation of the lab is its speed - it only takes five minutes to generate digital copies of objects. It facilitates digital visualization of physical artifacts and allows easier documentation. The secret to its ability to create perfect scans is the multiple cameras installed in the laser scanner that capture objects from multiple angles. The different levels of scanning technology and capabilities in each device enhance its ability to perform detailed digital reconstructions of cultural objects, regardless of their size or shape. As of now, CultLab3D provides scanning by using CultLab3D, CultArm3D, CultArc3D, Meso-Scanner V1, Meso-Scanner V2, HDR-ABDF-Scanner or separate laser and photogrammetry setups, depending on whether the workpiece is small or like some The structure is just as huge.

In addition to gaining the visual precision of the digitizing process, CultLab3D's scanning program incorporates ultrasound to inspect unstable or damaged areas. This detail, in addition to the greater efficiency provided by the accelerated scanning process, allows assessment of the overall health of cultural artifacts and captures the smallest features of the original that can be used for future conservation efforts.



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