Last week was an exciting one for the organisation at Autodesk that works on “Reality Computing” (a broader term I’ve seen recently that includes “Reality Capture” at the beginning, followed by “Reality Modeling and Analysis” and then “Reality Delivery”).
Their big announcement was a partnership with the Smithsonian – the venerable Washington DC-based institution that is the world’s largest museum and research complex – to bring digital scans of many important exhibits online and accessible to all via the Smithsonian x3D Explorer.
Shaan talks about the announcement in depth on his blog. I won’t repeat what he’s said over there, but will just highlight a quick video showing some of the tool’s capabilities:
This is really interesting (albeit currently in Beta) technology. And while it only works using WebGL-enabled browsers, that includes the one built into my phone.
The tool includes some great features: you can measure the online models accurately and browse written material that adjusts the view onto the current 3D model to highlight relevant areas (way cool). You can also download printable models and/or point clouds based on the scans. They even have David Livingstone’s gun available to download and 3D print, although presumably – just like my own brief look at this area – the results will be thoroughly non-functional. ;-)
About 3 years ago I visited the Smithsonian myself and tried a little bit of 3D reconstruction using some then-available technology (Microsoft’s Photosynth), but I’m delighted to say that the field has moved on in a big way since then.
As I never tire of being able to embed things in this blog, here’s one of the online exhibits:
This stuff just blows me away.
My next post is actually going to be somewhat related to this. At the request of a colleague I spent the morning today doing my own little bit of 3D scanning at a local museum using Kinect Fusion. But more on that in the next post…