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A Unified Effort

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2015
JUSTINE MURPHY, EDITOR, justine.murphy@photonics.com

Germany’s defeat in World War II divided the nation, and even its capital city of Berlin. In 1990, following decades of strife, the two republics came together to restore themselves as a single nation. Now, a quarter-century later, Germany is commemorating that reunification with 3D laser scanning of the historic Brandenburg Gate.

Largely isolated and inaccessible to many during Germany’s split, the landmark serves as a national symbol of the unified country. “Growing up in post-war Germany, the gate was a symbol of peace and unity, yet was inaccessible to many until the fall of the Berlin Wall,” said Hans-Günter Börgmann, managing director of Iron Mountain Germany, a company involved with the project.

The digital preservation project — a collaboration between Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Photogrammetry, CyArk, Iron Mountain Inc. and Seagate Technology — uses laser scanning and “reality capture technologies” to create a hyperaccurate record of the monument. This will allow people around the world to learn more about the Brandenburg Gate and (virtually) explore it via 3D models and videos.

Laser data of Germany’s Brandenburg Gate, as captured by CyArk.

Laser data of Germany’s Brandenburg Gate, as captured by CyArk.

Laser imaging creates an astounding amount of data — the equivalent of nearly 1 million high-definition photographs — according to those involved with the project. Once scanned, the imaging data from the laser scan and photo, video, audio, and metadata is captured on site by Seagate Technology and stored at CyArk’s California headquarters. The raw data is reviewed and rendered into 3D images, with a master copy stowed at Iron Mountain in Boston.

CyArk Vice President Elizabeth Lee said the project contributes to diligent global efforts to conserve and study the world’s most renowned heritage sites. She named the Middle East as another example of such sites, where she said a number of monuments are at risk.

“Everyone deserves equal access to the ideas and artifacts of our history, regardless of geographic and economic barriers,” Börgmann said. “The opportunity to apply our information management and protection capabilities to fulfill [the] mission of preserving [culture] and heritage allows us to use our expertise and experience to help ensure landmarks like the gate remain accessible to all forever.”

The laser scanning data were unveiled to the public last month during CyArk’s Annual Summit at the Berlin State Library.


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