Workshop on 3D Heritage on the mobile web – Part One

The workshop took place on the 7th of February at the University of Brighton and was organised as part of the 3D services on the Mobile Web project by members of the 3D-COFORM. This research project is funded by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and aims ‘to establish 3D documentation as an affordable, practical and effective mechanism for long term documentation of tangible cultural heritage’. (for more information visit the project’s website at

Details of the workshop are at:

An introductory speech about the aims and structure of the workshop as well as the state of the art in mobile technologies was held by Karina Rodriguez-Echavarria from the University of Brighton.

Workshop schedule:

  1. Presentations from 3D-COFORM partners
  2. Hands on activity for the participants: brainstorming and discussing 4 possible scenarios of 3D mobile applications for cultural heritage.
  3. Discussion chaired by David Arnold


Some highlights of Karina’s talk are listed below:

  • Current mainstream 3d technologies to represent and document cultural heritage: 3d cinema/3d tv/3d printer/3d mobile. Disadvantages: Availability of content and technologies not mature enough
  • Karina mentioned the ‘hype cycle for emerging technologies’ reports (Gartner 2010-11). The graphs illustrate where current technologies are situated in relation to two axes: Expectations-Time (years to mainstream adoption)
  • Overview of 3D-COFORM tools (Arc 3D Webservice, CityEngine, GML, In-Hand Scanner, MeshLab, Mini Dome, Multiview Dome, SpheroCam HDR, x3dom- 3D Internet Technology)
  •  The statement that mobile phones have almost become ‘an extension of ourselves’ was followed by statistics on the use of mobile phones which present that there are approximately 5.9 billion mobile users subscribed worldwide.

What new do 3D mobile technologies promise to bring?

  • Information available all around us
  • Social interaction when visiting a heritage site
  • Innovative experiences and interactions between people -people and cultural assets -cultural assets (e.g. using near to real-time data)

‘Opportunities in the 3D mobile web area: technologies and business models’ by Karina Rodriguez -Echavarria and Jaime Kaminski, university of Brighton

In this presentation Jaime talked about recent trends in 3D and mobile web technologies. The presentation considered opportunities for the Cultural Heritage sector to develop innovative experiences enabled by these technologies, and looked at the current business models which support them. He referred to ‘the mobile business ecosystem’ and noted that a business model to sustain heritage sector is not going to happen. From an academic perspective it means somewhat different from just economic scheduling.

Statistics and mobile phones:

  • US smartphone adoption: The Pew Internet project shows statistics for the use of smartphones in relation to wealth, education, ethnic groups etc.
  • smartphone user demographics from Google

From a business perspective CH applications tap into a lucrative non-commercial user base.

3d mobile cost centres:

  • Content acquisition
  • Content production
  • Publishing to devices
  • Hardware provision
  • Marketing sales and distribution
  • Assessment

Reducing costs:

  • Partnerships
  • Diverse revenue streams
  1. Subsidy. Issues: assumes a surplus that can be transferred somewhere else
  2. Freemium: free and premium content (natioanll constitution of america app)
  3. Sponshorship: e.g Moma audio programme issues: sponsorship is associated with prestigious institutions.
  4. Advertising: it is not usually used in the heritage sector
  5. Subscription models. Issues hefty fees.
  6. Donations
  7. Membership benefits: e.g the royal academy in London provides free audio tours and free entry to exhibitions to members. Issues: not all heritage sites have membership bodies
  8. Open data in heritage: this has to be done carefully, publish under creative commons copyrights (e.g. Europeana)
  9. Other revenue streams: grants

The reality:

Financial sustainability will not be a reality for many mobile strategies at heritage sites but


  • Few business and technical skills
  • Poor financing

Selling point: the compelling content!

Comments from participants:

  • Amendment of the directive PSI: the council is forcing institutions to give free access to cultural heritage content (the english heritage is one of the institutions that refuses to compile with the amendment)
  • The market is very important to be considered: what do people want to take away from these sites? Why do they visit them? If these questions are not answered first then it is pointless to talk about a 3D mobile strategy for CH.

‘Mobile 3D capture’ by David Tingdahl, K.U. Leuven

This talk considered the current status of mobile 3D capture and how a web service such as ARC3D can be adapted for mobile use. It also presented future research on an in-hand scanner which will run on mobile devices.

  • Structure from motion: works with matching points from different images of the same object.
  • ARC3D: the public web service that turns photos into 3D models

Apps on the market: trimensional, 3d scanner and 3d digitiser which is quite expensive but works like ARC3D in mobile

Limitation of mobiles: light collecting abilities is much less than a camera. The resolution of mobile cameras works fine to create 3d.

On-device reconstruction:

Optimum scenario: to have a live-reconstruction

Processing power is not enough (MIP 16k in desktop pc vs 1.2k in mobile phone/tablet)

Are real-time reconstructions possible?

We need to:

  • Optimise current algorithms
  • Accept a lower quality model

Currently in development:

Hybrid systems: structure from motion and structure light approach

Live feedback


Acquisitions on mobile devices are possible under good conditions

Mobile devices are too weak for the time being to support such applications with good results.

‘Populating and browsing 3d collections’ by Sebastian Pena Serna, Fraunhofer, IGD

Acknowledging that 3D technologies alone are not sufficient as a medium to create and disseminate cultural heritage information, Sebastian talked about the importance of the semantics of the assets. 3D collections allow for 3D and semantics to be combined, thus enabling new opportunities and experiences to enhance scholarly research and user engagement. He presented an integrated interface which can handle different kinds of multimedia objects, allowing for querying and annotating text, 2D images or 3D artefacts. Apart from the software design of this interface he also talked about the corresponding underlying model in the semantic network. This talk addressed the main aspects regarding building, accessing and enriching 3D collections, including future challenges in this field. This work is a general step toward interfacing to 3D Linked Open Data.

Some highlights of his talk are listed below:

3d collections: it is becoming more and more important to enrich digital archives by semantically linked information.

Workflow for a semantic repository

a. Building: acquire and process

b. Accessing: search and browse

c. Enriching: by making easy platforms where professionals can add to the repository. Structured labelling of parts/ structured enrichment of semantic networks

3D-COFORM platform

Digitization: 3d geometry, material properties and digital provenance

Processing: improve the quality of 3d artefacts, process 3 d artefacts for different purposes

Provenance: legacy and rich processing metadata

Metadata Accessing: in 3D-COFORM platform 3d artefacts are accompanied with rich metadata (examples that lack this element: Stanford’s repository where 3d artefacts do not have searchable metadata and Aim@shape: artefacts with basic searchable metadata, categories and keywords)

Future challenges: define workflows, create services, enable intuitive access, provide contextualised interfaces.


On to Part Two