3D Virtual Museum Project
The preservation of heritage before its degradation has been motivating the developing of new technologies, generating scientific projects and supporting restoration activities of historic heritage, among others. In these studies, most of the times, there is the necessity of moving or carrying these objects in order to make the research activities viable. However, even if the transportation is specialized, only the simple handling of the heritage may damage it irreversibly.
In this context, the developing of virtual museums helps to minimize these problems, facilitating the preservation, storage, and mainly, the access to the heritages. A 3D virtual museum system permits the access and study of realistic 3D models of objects from heritage with great level of detail, without handling or transporting them. Nevertheless, it's important to guarantee the safety of the digital data stored in the system, so as the ways of accessing them.
The group had developed some prototypes of different applications, in order to test the technologies developed at IMAGO. First, in 2002, it has been developed a system called SRIC3D, symbol in Portuguese for Recuperation of Digital 3D Copies of Physical Objects 'Contents' System. The aim of this system is to archive and organize a database of 3D images in a way that searches for contents in this base is possible through the use of image mining techniques. This initial prototype has been developed in Linux, and presented in a tutorial on the 15th Brazilian Symposium on Computer Graphics and Image Processing (SIBGRAPI'2002).
In 2004 it has been developed a prototype of the 3D Virtual Museum, developed in Java, where images are loaded to permit the visualization of heritage objects (For more details, click here). Currently, a visualization system for the 3D Virtual Museum is being developed in C++, Java and OpenGL. The system is accessed from a Web navigator, through a plug-in that permits a fast and safe access, with high interactivity with the user. This system is being developed using free software with platform independence, in order to easy its use, maintenance and expansion. The 3D Virtual Museum has been presented in WUW, on the 20th Brazilian Symposium on Computer Graphics and Image Processing (SIBGRAPI'2007).
The 3D Virtual Museum project is related with several research areas in Computer Science, such as image processing, computer vision, computer graphics, artificial intelligence, database, operational systems, networks, among others. A brief explanation about the current system is presented below.
The 3D Virtual Museum Visualization System
The main objective of the 3D Virtual Museum Visualization System is the developing of a computational platform that permits a fast and safe access to the 3D models of natural and cultural heritage. From a specially developed plug-in for Web navigators, the user can visualize the 3D Models in details, through a set of tolls with high degree of interactivity.
Through the plug-in for Web navigators and the client-server system developed, a person connected to the Internet can access the 3D models of objects from a digital collection for a simple visit, or to study or develop scientific work.
The system's database is easily refreshed with the insertion of new models, without the need to update the plug-in if the user needs to view recently added objects. The 3D Virtual Museum guarantees the digital preservation of the artworks or natural objects, in order to make possible the precise reproduction of the objects case an accident or natural disaster happens.
Plug-in for Web Browsers
The developed plug-in permits a specific application for 3D models visualization - The 3D Virtual Museum - to be exposed in a Web navigator. In this way, the user can access the Museum's objects available on the client-server system's database. When accessing the Museum's page for the first time, he will obtain the plug-in. It will be automatically installed on the Web navigator safely, and without the need to restart his machine, permitting the exhibition of the 3D Virtual Museum's client application's interface in the user's machine.
To exhibit heritage on the 3D Virtual Museum and preserve the geometry of the models and their copyrights, two kinds of 3D models are used. The server's database has high and low-density polygonal models, and the client system can visualize both the high and low models, according to the user's access level. The use of these models is very important in our client-server system because it permits a safe visualization of the 3D models.
The user can view the contents of the 3D Virtual Museum through the system's client. The client application requests the model chose by the user on the Virtual Museum's page to the server, that sends back the model to visualization. The quality of the model's details depends on the user's access level.
The visualization occurs in an interactive way, permitting the user to rotate, zoom in and out, and move the models in real time. Options like changing the illumination, visualizing the model with and without the texture, or with wireframe are also present.
When the server receives the client requisition, it processes the parameters received, examining the user identification. If the user is registered and authenticated on the system, the model is sent to the client. The model's characteristics sent are determined by the access level of the registered user.