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New underwater scanners

An EU team is developing new scanning systems for marine archaeology. Two of three prototypes proved useful, using a combination of lasers and special cameras to quickly produce high-quality 3D images of submerged structures.

Digital Economy

3D scanning technologies have helped document numerous cultural heritage and archaeological sites, the technologies also being efficient and cheap. Nevertheless, there is room for technical improvement in the use of such devices in underwater contexts. The EU-funded 3DUNDERWORLD (Rapid scanning and automatic 3D reconstruction of underwater sites) project aimed to develop new, rapid underwater scanning systems. The proposal included automated hardware and software solutions, applicable to 3D terrain reconstruction in all contexts of underwater exploration. Such developments were expected to allow untrained use. The four-year project concluded in late 2014. Work resulted in three prototype systems. The first combined active and passive sensors, and involved a projector and camera. While the results were high-fidelity, the system required objects to remain motionless throughout the entire 20 to 30-second imaging process. Another prototype utilised recent high-speed acquisition technologies, replacing the standard digital camera with a special high-speed version. The system hence required a far shorter period of motionlessness, less than 1 second, thereby being more realistic for marine use. Prototype three utilised a low-power laser, replacing the projector, plus a pair of cameras. The system is advantageous for deep-water use. Single- and triple-beam versions were also developed. The project successfully developed several prototype systems that improve underwater 3D scanning. Thus, the undertaking also helped develop marine archaeology. The following videos were produced during the 3D-UNDERWORLD project at the Immersive and Creative Technologies Lab: Turntable animation of a model of a statue of Alexander The Great, Turntable animation of a model of a vase of Ampora and Turntable animation of a model of a statue of Diana (Artemis).


Underwater scanners, marine archaeology, submerged structures, 3D scanning, underwater sites

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