Please 3D Scan the Art: Design Student Creates a How-To Manual for Metropolitan Museum Visitors

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a very friendly policy with 3D scanning. The museum not only allows 3D scanning but they had design graduate student Decho Pituckcharoen create a guide book to help you learn how to do it properly. As a collaboration with the  Met Media Lab, Decho created this friendly guide to help visitors do exactly that. Not only did he set about to create an accessible manual for visitors interested in digitizing the art but he also had to learn how to use the technology himself. It is this type of enabling research and sharing that we’d like to see more of.

Below we asked Decho a few questions about his process of designing for and explaining this new technology to beginners.

What is it about the 3D scanning process that made you want to make this guide book?

As a designer who has worked with print medium for a long time, I’m interested in 3D printing technology. Right away Don, the manager of media lab, introduced me to the 3D scanning software 123D catch, which isn’t exactly a scanning program but photogrametry, which is really easy to use. What I really need is just a digital camera or phone camera to take pictures of art piece and the software converts them to 3D models.

So, I did some research to find tutorials or how to use this technology to produce your own projects. Mostly the tutorials that I found were serious looking or had lots of text to read. That was when I had an idea that why don’t I make it friendlier than a usual one.

I got my inspiration from a simple IKEA instruction that lets pictures describe step by step of assembly. I think it would be a easier if users can understand how to use 3D scanning for their projects with user friendly information graphic that might be practical for non-tech savvy users to use. By combining simple 3D scanning software + user friendly instruction, I believe that my guide book will have a potential for anyone who is interested in 3D printing area.

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Did you learn anything unexpected about working in 3D?

After scanning objects, 3D scanning software algorithm will calculate and simulate over all shapes for a 3D model. I was amazed that it actually filled and completed a part that I couldn’t scan. For example, on the very top past of a big and tall sculpture.

I also learned about digital 3D community while I was researching about my project. There are a tons of open source objects and projects that they share to us. For example, If I need a business card stand, I will just download it and print it out from my 3D printer. That is like a magic place to me to see many makers who want to contribute useful resources for us.

Do you think that being able to 3D scan will add value to a museum visitor’s experience?

I personally think that it will definitely add more benefits about educational purpose to visitors. They can scan objects form the museum and keep them into digital formats in order to study at home or everywhere else. Moreover, visitors can see art in different angles from 3D files that they can’t do in the museum. Therefore, they can observe more details about each art piece to use for their research.

After scanning, art piece from the museum can be presented to different formats. For example, story telling animation, interactive websites or kinetic figures that will be attractive to young audiences.

It’s true that seeing an actual art piece you can feel more authenticity, but for some audiences they don’t have a chance to go to have their own experience at the museum; for example, people who live abroad or disabilities. With 3D scanning technology, they can take advantage by seeing art pieces through virtual 3D world from everywhere or on the internet instead. More over, it will add more value to disabilities especially blind people since they can experience by touching shape and texture of each replica art piece that is scanned from the museum.

How do you imagine this scanning and printing technology will be used in the near future? say, in 10 years?

I imagine scanning and printing technology will be used to produce more and more objects with verity of new materials. Importantly, for medical profession filed that human organs can be reproduce with very fine details and quality. Maybe, It will be awesome that we can use 3D scanning to keep our identity instead of taking pictures on our ID cards. I predict that 3D printers and scanners will also be apart of household objects. they’ll be very portable. If you break something in your house, you can reproduce it again and again. I hope that 3D printing industry and community  will grow bigger to wider audiences and people will think that it’s not a complicated things to learn and use.

 

For more info on digital happenings are the Met check out their Digital Underground Blog.

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