USER–APPROPRIATE VIEWER FOR HIGH RESOLUTION INTERACTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH 3D DIGITAL CULTURAL ARTEFACTS
Keywords: HCI, laser Scanning, WebGL, Scanning Heritage, Computer Graphics, Dissemination
Abstract. Three dimensional (3D) laser scanning is an important documentation technique for cultural heritage. This technology has been adopted from the engineering and aeronautical industry and is an invaluable tool for the documentation of objects within museum collections (La Pensée, 2008). The datasets created via close range laser scanning are extremely accurate and the created 3D dataset allows for a more detailed analysis in comparison to other documentation technologies such as photography. The dataset can be used for a range of different applications including: documentation; archiving; surface monitoring; replication; gallery interactives; educational sessions; conservation and visualization. However, the novel nature of a 3D dataset is presenting a rather unique challenge with respect to its sharing and dissemination. This is in part due to the need for specialised 3D software and a supported graphics card to display high resolution 3D models. This can be detrimental to one of the main goals of cultural institutions, which is to share knowledge and enable activities such as research, education and entertainment. This has limited the presentation of 3D models of cultural heritage objects to mainly either images or videos. Yet with recent developments in computer graphics, increased internet speed and emerging technologies such as Adobe's Stage 3D (Adobe, 2013) and WebGL (Khronos, 2013), it is now possible to share a dataset directly within a webpage. This allows website visitors to interact with the 3D dataset allowing them to explore every angle of the object, gaining an insight into its shape and nature. This can be very important considering that it is difficult to offer the same level of understanding of the object through the use of traditional mediums such as photographs and videos. Yet this presents a range of problems: this is a very novel experience and very few people have engaged with 3D objects outside of 3D software packages or games.
This paper presents results of research that aims to provide a methodology for museums and cultural institutions for prototyping a 3D viewer within a webpage, thereby not only allowing institutions to promote their collections via the internet but also providing a tool for users to engage in a meaningful way with cultural heritage datasets. The design process encompasses evaluation as the central part of the design methodology; focusing on how slight changes to navigation, object engagement and aesthetic appearance can influence the user's experience. The prototype used in this paper, was created using WebGL with the Three.Js (Three.JS, 2013) library and datasets were loaded as the OpenCTM (Geelnard, 2010) file format. The overall design is centred on creating an easy-tolearn interface allowing non-skilled users to interact with the datasets, and also providing tools allowing skilled users to discover more about the cultural heritage object. User testing was carried out, allowing users to interact with 3D datasets within the interactive viewer. The results are analysed and the insights learned are discussed in relation to an interface designed to interact with 3D content. The results will lead to the design of interfaces for interacting with 3D objects, which allow for both skilled and non skilled users to engage with 3D cultural heritage objects in a meaningful way.