— Google

How LiDAR tech helps preserve world heritage

According to John Ristevski, CEO and chairman of CyArk, the project was one dramatic example of “putting data to work to solve problems.” As the Bagan Lab Experiment shows, the data also served another purpose: bringing ancient heritage to life for new audiences around the world. Google Arts and Culture sat down with John to learn more about how this kind of 3D laser scanning technology, also known as LiDAR, can help preserve cultural heritage, tell captivating stories and make history more accessible.

John, tell us a bit more about LiDAR devices and how they work.

Ben Kacyra, who founded CyArk in 2003 to preserve and celebrate cultural heritage, developed the first mobile LiDAR devices in the mid-nineties. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and these devices use lasers to create incredibly detailed and accurate 3D representations of places that would be hard to describe using other means. Think of the inside of a submarine or an oil refinery, for instance – it would take forever to measure and map these places using traditional methods. A LiDAR device can gather many millions of data points per second.

So it’s safe to say that LiDAR beats a measuring tape and a pencil – but is it enough?

At Bagan, we also used aerial drone photography and photogrammetry, a technique that allows us to build 3D reconstructions that capture the colors and textures of the pagodas and temples in photo-realistic detail. Alongside these, we collected interviews, audio soundscapes and 360-degree video to evoke the atmosphere and history of Bagan.


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