Smithsonian Scanning Team Presents Smithsonian X 3D at #SPAR2014
The 3D Digitization Program Office of the Smithsonian, Vincent Rossi and Adam Metallo, presented at the 2014 SPAR International Conference in Colorado Springs today. This team is responsible for scanning and archiving the collections of the 19 museums of the Smithsonian. That’s a lot of content to archive and present the nation’s collection to the public, and the team is pioneering 3D with just three members that need to head back quickly to Washington in order to receive and scan a new Tyrannosaurus Rex that is being delivered this week.
There is less than one percent of the Smithsonian’s collection on display, and roughly one percent of the collection is digitized. The team uses LiDAR as well micro scanning and digital laser scanning to scan a large number of objects and artifacts.
Some of the projects highlighted include:
- Scanned of whales in Chile, that were uncovered due to a highway widening project, needing to scan quickly so that construction could continue. They were able to 3D print within days after scanning the object.
- Scanning is also done for objects in the museum that aren’t that visible even in the museum, such as the Gunboat Philadelphia that dates to the American Revolution and that the museum was built around.
- The scan of a Buddha figure, removing the dappled color to reveal the detailed carving
- The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory helped provide details from the Chandra X-Ray telescope to create the first 3D model of a deep-space object
- The 1903 Wright Flyer was scanned and has proven of great value to discover details by measuring and modeling that aren’t possible when just visiting the object
- The scan of Abraham Lincoln is proving to be the most popular model to 3D print within classrooms with a very user-friendly experience
The Smithsonian has teamed with Autodesk to develop a 3D viewer to present the scans to the public. The Smithsonian X 3D viewer allows for manipulation of objects. They use a 2.5D viewer in order to be able to stream the detailed models online. The 3D Explorer includes video and storytelling details as well as an embed capability to import models directly online. The Smithsonian X 3D project has been embraced by traditional media, with a lot of interest including Mythbusters and more than 9 million Twitter followers for the event that even beat out the baby Panda camera.
The Smithsonian aspires to quickly document the archives of the museum in 3D, with Picturae DigiStreet as a 2D example as they can scan thousands of objects in a conveyor belt machine. They hope to reach the same volume with 3D, with a need to bring down costs dramatically to reach their objectives and increase the amount of data that is archived. Digitzation and access can make a huge impact for the country’s archives, taking down the wall and solving the access problem, making the archives accessible.