DARMSTADT, GERMANY and ROSTOCK, GERMANY and GRAZ, AUSTRIA--(Marketwired - Dec 5, 2013) - Millions of cultural artifacts exist in our museums. But are these cultural treasures safe there? In the fire at the Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar in the year 2004 or when the historical city archive in Cologne collapsed in 2009, numerous works of art were completely destroyed. Preserving our cultural heritage in a digital way is a good possibility of mitigating the impact of such disasters. For around ten years, private, national and international initiatives have been trying to digitally capture and archive cultural treasures. However, these have mainly been limited to 2D artifacts such as book pages, paintings or photographs.

"With CultLab3D, we are presenting, for the first time, a quick, economical approach to digitize cultural heritage in the next, the third dimension", says Pedro Santos of Fraunhofer IGD. His team is developing technologies for a faster digitization and virtual reproduction of objects from the real world in superior quality. CultLab3D not only captures geometry and texture of artifacts but also their optical material properties such as reflection and absorption characteristics for a later photo-realistic representation of their appearance under any lighting conditions.

So far, 3D digitalization has been very expensive and time-consuming. CultLab3D now relies on the industrialization and automation of the entire 3D digitization process of artifacts by means of state-of-the-art scan and lighting technologies. This is how it works: The artifacts pass through special scanning arcs on a conveyor belt. In the process, they are scanned from all sides in a fully automated fashion. In a second step, scanners mounted to lightweight robotic arms are resolve any remaining occlusions and gaps of the so far reconstructed virtual 3D model. The finished 3D model can then be linked to cultural-historic information such as the period of origin, the artist or related artifacts. The entire process only takes a few minutes, compared to several hours before. The mobile digitalization lab CultLab3D makes it possible to scan and archive the millions of existing artifacts industrially, cost-effectively and quickly.

Awarded exhibit

CultLab3D is funded by the federal ministry for economics and technology and was presented for the first time at the Digital Heritage 2013 Conference (28 Oct. through 1 Nov. 2013) in Marseille under the patronage of UNESCO. The biggest event yet on the subject of Digital Cultural Heritage gathered around 700 representatives from research and education, industry and politics to discuss and present digital technologies for the preservation, documentation and understanding of cultural heritage. The associated exhibition was accessible to the public and recorded more than 6000 visitors. There, CultLab3D won the "2013 DigitalHeritage International Congress and V-MUST.NET" award for the best technology exhibit.

For further information:


Fraunhofer IGD is the world's leading institute for applied research in Visual Computing. Visual Computing is image- and model-based information technology. It includes computer graphics, computer vision, as well as virtual and augmented reality.

Fraunhofer IGD develops prototypes and complete solutions pursuant to customer-specific requirements. The researchers at Fraunhofer IGD use, record and process images and graphics for all conceivable computer-based applications.

The research and development projects of Fraunhofer IGD directly relate to current business issues. The application spectrum of the concepts, models and practical solutions is as diverse as it is specialized. It ranges from virtual product design via medical science, transportation all the way to multi-media learning and training.

Together with its partner universities, Fraunhofer IGD researches various key technologies and cooperates with companies in many different industry sectors. In addition to the head office in Darmstadt, Fraunhofer IGD has further sites in Rostock, Graz and Singapore. It has more than 200 (full-time equivalent) employees. The budget amounts over 17 million euros.

Contact Information:

Fraunhofer Institute for
Computer Graphics Research IGD
Corporate Communications
Dr. Konrad Baier
Fraunhoferstrasse 5
64283 Darmstadt

Phone: +49 6151 155-146
Fax +49 6151 155-199