Although ancient artifacts can be breathtaking to look at in museums, the reality is they are just a shadow of their former glory. Often, these artifacts are missing important pieces, with once detailed features rubbed off and brilliant colors faded from thousands of years of handling and exposure to the environment.
A tool to help alleviate this problem has been developed by teams of researchers at the University of Bordeaux, University College London and the University of Amsterdam. Dubbed the “Revealing Flashlight,” the device uses computer generated digital imaging to reveal what these ancient objects looked like in pristine condition.
The technology uses “spatial augmented reality to combine real objects with 3D models.” Specifically, the process involves scanning objects with a 3D laser in combination with projected light and cameras to decipher features that are invisible to the naked eye. Blending virtual data with a physical scan, the flashlight can then project an image onto the object giving viewers an impression of the artifact as it must have appeared in days gone by.
In the museum setting the flashlight is used in tandem with a ‘leap motion gesture sensing controller’ that detects the direction your hand is pointing, which then directs the projector onto the object in question to reveal the missing details for the viewer, adding a sense of discovery and exploration. In addition to greatly enhancing a museum patron’s experience, this will also be a useful tool for archaeologists seeking to better interpret, decipher, and reconstruct ancient artifacts, and providing all of us yet another exciting tool to help lift the curtain of time.