3D Technologies R&D provides applications for presenting objects using interactive 3D technology. The company has recently created a solution to introduce a cave system virtually, as a three-dimensional model on a touchscreen kiosk.
Piusa cavern is a system of unique, sandstone caves, up to 10 metres in height, located in south-eastern Estonia, only few miles from the Russian border. The caves were created as a result of manual mining of glass-sand from 1922-1966 and represent a system of underground galleries with sandstone columns and vaulted ceilings. Since 2006, the caverns have been closed to the public to protect hibernating bats. The caverns have become an important tourist attraction and, in 2010, a visitor centre was built with funding from the EU. Science centre Ahhaa! designed the exhibition and asked 3D Technologies R&D to create a 3D solution to enable visitors to view the caves.
In order to create the most accurate three-dimensional model of the caves, they had to be laser-scanned and photographed. Compared with traditional scanning, the caves offered some unique challenges, notably the total darkness and low temperature – they remain at around 5°C all year round. After scanning on site, the result was processed and modelled by the company’s 3D artist.
The caves are presented as an interactive, real-time, 3D model which visitors can hover around using the 32” touchscreen. The cave walls, sandstone colours and minor details, such as inscriptions and sculptures on the sand wall made by visitors in the past, can be observed on the computer model. In the corner of the screen, a map pinpoints the visitor’s current location in the virtual cave system. The visitor centre has received considerable attention for this innovative approach, which offers tourists a virtual walk in the caverns without interfering with the bats.
The case-study was published in Kiosk Europe magazine 2011 Spring issue: http://www.kioskeurope.com/content/3d-technologies-creates-virtual-caves