The Taitung-based National Museum of Prehistory, which has been incorporating 3D technology in its development in recent years, has launched the first digital 3D archive of cultural artifacts in Taiwan.
After testing 3D scanning techniques for a year, the museum has developed a method for scanning artifacts made from most materials. However, it is still a great challenge for engineers to scan objects that are highly reflective or have higher degrees of transparency.
Director Chang Shan-nan (張善楠) of the National Museum of Prehistory noted that the 3D archive will mainly collect colored models of museum artifacts made with the scanning technique.
The high-tech digitization technique will create artifact models using millions ofpolygon meshes. The polyhedral graphics will then be rendered and finalized by 3D engineers and uploaded to the digital archive.
The archive (3d.nmp.gov.tw) currently contains 80 pieces of replicated artifacts, 25 of which are based on ceramic relics, 10 on jade, 42 on rock, 1 on bone, and 2 on miscellaneous materials.
Users can search items sorted by time, category, and the original excavation site. The 3D models can also be browsed and viewed from all angles online without having to install any applications, added research assistant Ye Chang-geng (葉長庚).
In addition to its 3D digital collection, the museum has also developed other services. For instance, it will provide a mobile application enabling museumgoers to view exhibitions through AR. It will also offer Google Cardboard glasses to create an immersive VR experience for real-life visitors.
The museum has also completed the development of a GPS service that will soon allow users to locate and "capture” virtual prehistoric artifacts across Taiwan with their mobile device.
By embracing technology, the museum has digitized prized artifacts and improved its research and exhibition display. Looking forward, the National Museum of Prehistory hopes to not only make Taiwan's cultural artifacts accessible for the world via digital platforms, but to enhance the museum-going experience for exhibitiongoers around the globe as well.