Fully Automatic, Omnidirectional Acquisition of Geometry and Appearance in the Context of Cultural Heritage Preservation

Tobias Nöll, Johannes Köhler, Gerd Reis, Didier Stricker

In: Roberto Scopigno (editor). Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH). ACM 2/2015.


Effective documentation and display of ancient objects is an essential task in the field of cultural heritage conservation. Digitization plays an important role in the process of creating, preserving, and accessing objects in digital space. Up to the present day, industrial scanners are used for this task, which focus mainly on the detailed reconstruction of the object’s geometry only. However, particularly important for a faithful digital presentation of the object is the appearance information—that is, a description of the used materials and how they interact with incident light. Using the world’s first full-spherical scanner, we propose a user-friendly reconstruction process that is specifically tailored to the needs of digitizing and representing cultural heritage artifacts. More precisely, our hardware specifically addresses the problem that invaluable or fragile artifacts may not be turned over during acquisition. Nevertheless, we can digitize the object completely, including its bottom. Further, by integrating appearance information into our digitization, we achieve a far more faithful digital replica with a quality comparable to a real picture of the object. But in contrast to a static picture, our representation allows one to interactively change the viewing and lighting directions freely. In addition, the results are very memory efficient, consuming only several megabytes per scanned object. In cooperation with museums and a private collector, we digitized several cultural heritage artifacts to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed process.

German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz