Google is focused on preserving important historical sites around the world for future generations by partnering with nonprofit 3D laser scanning operation CyArk in a joint effort called the Open Heritage project
CyArk, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit aims to capture historical monuments and sites before they befall a similar type of tragedy. Google patterned with CyArk to develop Virtual Reality (VR) representations of historical sites around the world, which are high risk of irreversible damage or total erasure due to human conflict and natural disasters. Open Heritage project will use CyArk’s laser-scanning technology to capture all the relevant data at a historical site needed to re-create it virtually, so it can be preserved and explored online either on a computer through a mobile device or while wearing a virtual reality headset.
Furthermore, researchers and other interested organizations will be able to apply to download the data to build applications or to analyze it for ways to help preserve and restore the real-life monuments and sites. The Open Heritage models will be available online and on the Google Arts and Culture mobile apps for iOS and Android. Those mobile apps will also support the VR tours through Google’s Daydream platform.
The division started with a focus on partnering with museums to bring art works online alongside Street View-style walk-throughs of famous museums. “With modern technology, we can capture these monuments in fuller detail than ever before, including the color and texture of surfaces alongside the geometry captured by the laser scanners with millimeter precision in 3D,” said Chance Coughenour, a digital archaeologist and program manager with the Google Arts and Culture division. “These detailed scans can also be used to identify areas of damage and assist restoration efforts.”