Google is making a Monumental contribution with VR

Google has partnered with 3D laser scanning nonprofit CyArk to help preserve historical sites around the world that are at risk of irreversible damage or total erasure due to human conflict and natural disasters. The joint effort, called the Open Heritage project, will use CyArk’s laser-scanning technology to capture all the relevant data at a historical site needed to re-create it virtually, so it can be preserved and explored online either on a computer, through a mobile device, or while wearing a virtual reality headset. “With modern technology, we can capture these monuments in fuller detail than ever before, including the color and texture of surfaces alongside the geometry captured by the laser scanners with millimeter precision in 3D,” Chance Coughenour, a digital archaeologist and program manager with the Google Arts and Culture division, said in a press release. “These detailed scans can also be used to identify areas of damage and assist restoration efforts.” CyArk, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit, was founded in 2003 as a humanitarian and cultural outlet for technology that creator Ben Kacyra developed as co-founder and CEO of Cyra Technologies, a Bay Area company that makes a laser mapping, modeling, and CAD product used by architects, engineers, and construction firms. Kacyra says he was inspired to create CyArk using Cyra’s laser-mapping technology after seeing the Taliban destroy 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, back in 2001. It’s that type of destruction of ancient culture that Kacyra is concerned about, and CyArk’s mission is to capture historical monuments and sites before they befall a similar type of tragedy. One such site is the Ananda Ok Kyaung temple in Bagan, Myanmar, which suffered damage during an earthquake in 2016. Google will help preserve endangered historical sites in virtual reality

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