ABC News, 23 April 2017: Virtul Reality is an upcoming tool to bring old civilisations to life.
This past year I’ve been working on a side project to use the iPad as the primary data collection device for recording rock art in the field, replacing paper forms that can number in the hundreds. Last week I presented the idea and the results of field testing at the Australian Archaeological Association Conference.
Here’s a handy tool for the field – using your camera phone as a microscope. This video shows you how you can use a cheap ‘toy’ microscope and attach it to an iPhone case and get image magnifications of 20-45X. Of course, there shouldn’t be a reason why you wouldn’t be able to adapt the idea on any other camera phone. I could personally use it for looking at rock art pigments in situ.
I’ve been warming up to the idea of an Ipad, particularly of being able to carry a small library of ebooks and pdf documents around for quick referencing. Now to tempt me even further, Apple has a minisite on how an archaeological team from the University of Cincinnati is using ipads to assist in excavations in Pompeii! Looks quite neat – has anyone started to use the ipad (successfully or unsuccessfully) in the field? Being no Apple user myself, I’ve got no idea how the FMTouch, iDraw and OmniGraffle apps work.
Thailand announces an ambitious project to leverage information technology to enhance visitor services and information resources by digitizing cultural heritage collections and using IT to help with visitor planning. Among the plans are the use of RFID tags in place of paper tickets at the Chao Sam Praya museum at Ayutthaya, as well as the dissemination of content over mobile phones and Google maps. It sounds pretty progressive and forward-looking, although I’m a bit skeptical about how accessible such content can be for say, the rural poor who have problems accessing a computer or have limited use with a mobile phone. I’m also a bit skeptical about the use of RFID tags in the museum – it’s not particularly big and I suspect implementing such a system will cost ridiculously more than then paper ticket system. However the initiative certainly seems to be aimed at local collaboration rather than the tourist dollar, which is a step in the right direction. I wonder what lessons will be learned from this.
I’ve previously mentioned the plight of the ancient manuscripts kept at the Radya Pustaka Museum in Solo and how they have been literally rotting away in cupboards here. It seems that a workshop has been conducted recently to teach museum and heritage professionals how to prepare and scan/photograph these manuscripts into a digital format as a means of preservation. The work sounds pretty similar to what I’m doing with documenting rock art. Digitising data has the potential to be stored indefinitely, but maintaining digitising collections is a constant process and requires a long-term outlook to keep up with the level of technological change. I’m personally keeping four backups of my data on recordable discs and portable hard drives – but these things only have a shelf life of 5 years, by which time I will probably need to change the recording media (think about how you’ve had to evolve from CD-R to DVD-R to flash drives and portable hard drives in the last five years). Just over a decade ago there was a European effort to maintain a database of rock art that was being stored in a now-defunct Kodak photo cd digital format – I’m not sure if the effort still exists, or if the data can still be drawn from the obsolete proprietary system. In contrast, these ancient manuscripts and rock art have survived relatively well for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The moral of the story: digital collections might be a great way for facilitating mass dissemination and saving space, but we haven’t actually seen any long term solutions for storage of digital collections. The only safe recourse currently for archiving digital information is to make multiple backups and to do so in regular intervals that keeps up with the pace of technology – and I suspect that the cost will eventually outstrip the benefit in the future.
photo credit: pcardoso
Digital Age Provides Hope For Ancient Manuscripts
Jakarta Globe, 26 June 2009
Robots taking over us fleshling archaeologists? Climate change destroying archaeological sites? Yes! It’s true! And more! In this week’s edition of rojak.
1 Dec 2006 (The Chosun Ilbo) – A Korean company, in conjunction with Dongguk University have digitally recreated Angkor Wat, and will be made public in mid-December. I’ll be looking out for the link to post here.
The glory that was Angkor Wat has been restored to 3D digital life with the help of Korean technology. The digital recreation company CG WAVE and a research institute at Dongguk University dedicated to Buddhist electronic content have completed a one-year project to recreate the Khmer temple in western Cambodia at a cost of some W500 million (US$1=W930). Wars, colonial rule and the passage of time left many parts of the temple in ruins, and restoration work is continuous all over the vast complex. â€œDigital Angkor Watâ€ offers a glimpse of the temple in its original form.
Some 30,000 photos were used for the complete virtual restoration. â€œThis is the first time we have used our technology to digitally restore a cultural asset of another nation,â€ says the leader of CG WAVEâ€™s Angkor Wat team, senior researcher at Korea Advanced Institute of Sciences and Technology (KAIST) Park Jin-ho. â€œUsing the maximum amount of information accessible these days as our foundation, we resurrected a lost cultural legacy and preserved it through video imaging.â€