3D Virtual Reality Technology Brings Ship to Life

September 25, 2014

Yachting Journal

To capitalize on the demand for new Virtual Reality 3D content and to gain even more value from the recent 3D laser survey of the Discovery, Digital Surveys and Dundee Heritage Trust have begun to create what they profess to be the most realistic 3D virtual tour App of an historic vessel in the world.

By using 3D laser scan data, high dynamic range photography and the latest games engine technology, Digital Surveys have developed a hyper realistic 3D version of the ship. This prototype allows users, by putting on the headset, to explore the wardroom, sit at the table or even peek in Shackleton’s sleeping quarters. Future possibilities include walking the decks or even climbing the rigging.

Mark Munsie, Operations Director from DHT, said, “The primary aim of the laser scanning project was to provide a detailed and highly accurate record of Discovery’s internal and external structure and her current state of repair to produce base line information for future  conservation planning. It has indeed provided this invaluable information but the results in terms of photo-realistic models and animations have amazed and excited us all about the interpretation and public access possibilities. Now we also have cutting edge Virtual Reality technology coming to Captain Scott’s historic ship which is incredible. The prospect of people at home all over the world being able to explore the ship in 3D is very exciting. It also opens up the visit experience to people with disabilities who would otherwise be unable to climb up to the bridge or go below decks.”

The total project costs to date were funded through the Scottish Government’s Recognition Fund, awarded by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS).

Joanne Orr, Chief Executive of MGS, said that the Recognition Scheme ensures that Scotland’s most important collections are identified, cared for, protected and promoted, and MGS were delighted to award funding for this project.  “Bringing Captain Scott’s ship directly to people in their own front rooms and offices around the world is a fantastic achievement, and Dundee Heritage Trust is reinforcing the city’s status as the technology capital of Scotland with this innovative project.”

Joanne continued, “Dundee is undergoing huge redevelopment, and the RRS Discovery and her associated Polar Collection will no doubt play a significant part in drawing in the crowds to this rejuvenated city.”

Ben Bennett, Chief Technology Officer from Digital Surveys added, “Digital Surveys are so delighted to be working with such prestigious heritage that we wanted to take the results to the next level. No other historic ship has used 3D technology to this extent so we really are breaking new ground with this project.”

Funding of £50,000 is being sought to develop the Virtual Reality tour to cover more of the ship. There will also be tablet and mobile device App versions for those that don't have an Oculus Rift headset. The Trust is also looking into the possibility of building a VR station within the museum to allow disabled visitors to use the technology to explore the ship. Dundee Heritage Trust is now investigating possible grant sources or even crowd funding for these exciting future developments.

virtual realityScottish GovernmentScotland