May is Autodesk’s annual Global Month of Impact. This is an opportunity for everyone at Autodesk to do some great volunteer work. This initiative demonstrates who we are — a company committed to making a better world. The theme of Global Month of Impact this year is disaster resilience and relief. Volunteer events are planned in over 20 Autodesk offices.
Dace Campbell is an Autodesk Customer Success Manager. Dace shared this story with me. With his permission, I am sharing it with you.
We can debate whether it's man-made or not, but our climate is changing. We are experiencing sea-level rise now and are predicted to continue to do so. With this change, we are losing some of our precious cultural artifacts. Using Autodesk technology, Dace, who is also an architect from Seattle, and his family are trying to make a difference.
Here is Dace's report.
The climate is changing, and the sea level is rising. Scientists estimate that ocean waters will rise by at least two meters this century, which could have a catastrophic impact around the globe. Among the nations and peoples most vulnerable to this coming change are those who make their home on the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Entire countries and cultures will disappear as beaches erode, villages submerge, and countless atolls and islands are wiped off the map. And with them, an entire history evidenced by architectural and cultural artifacts. But this tragic scenario doesn't have to be the end of the story.
It seems that there is little that can be done to stop rising sea levels in the short term. However, as technology advances and becomes more accessible to professionals and amateurs alike, we have tools at our disposal to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our coastal artifacts. Specifically, aerial photogrammetry and virtual reality enable us to document artifacts at risk of submersion to support historic preservation efforts in the face of climate change.
Dace works as a Customer Success Manager at Autodesk, helping architects, contractors, and owners realize tangible value from their investment in Autodesk solutions. When he recently earned a sabbatical, he planned it with two goals in mind:
- Get away with his family to a tropical island and
- Engage in a meaningful philanthropic project.
image source: Wikipedia
Dace spent many months brainstorming and researching projects and places in which his family could participate in a meaningful project. Then, in summer 2017, he decided to leverage his background in architecture and virtual reality technology to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Further research led him to find Kosrae, (pronounced: "kosh-RYE,"), Micronesia, where he executed a historic preservation project using photogrammetry, virtual reality, and augmented reality to document culturally significant architectural artifacts being impacted by climate change.
- Photogrammetry is the process of converting 2D photographs into 3D models. Multiple photographs (from different angles) are processed by a computer that aligns the pixels in the photographs to create the model.
- Virtual reality is an artificial world consisting of images and sounds created by a computer that is affected by the actions of a person experiencing it. Most first-person video games are examples of virtual reality.
- Augmented reality is an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device such as a camera on a smartphone.
That's the technology, but this story is really about people and providing them with the ability to see the environment from different points of view. Drones can be used to capture alternate viewpoints from above, and VR lets everyone experience those new viewpoints.
The Lelu Ruins are the historic remnants of the political and administrative center of a city on Lelu Island, a satellite of the larger island of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia. The ruins date back to 1250-1850 AD. They are comprised of megalithic stone walls whose construction and architectural significance have the potential to be granted historical preservation significance by the UNESCO World Heritage Organization. This will be a moot point if sea-level rise submerges the site without a plan to preserve and protect it.
Given this potentially catastrophic future, Dace is capturing Lelu using a drone, converting thousands of photos to a 3D model with Autodesk ReCap, and turning that model into an interactive computer-based experience with 3D Studio Max and Max Interactive. If future generations cannot experience Lelu physically, they can do so virtually.
The equipment involved includes:
- Canon EOS Rebel camera // more
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone // more
- Apple iPad // more
- Lenovo ThinkPad // more
- Samsung Galaxy smartphone // more
- HP Omen gaming computer // more
- Samsung Odyssey VR Headset // more
- HTC Vive VR System // more
- Desktop PC
The workflow involves:
In addition to future generations, today people can experience Lelu without making the trip to Micronesia.
And perhaps even more fascinating is that from the 3D model, archeologists can imagine what Lelu looked like in its day and allow everyone to experience what it was like over 150 years ago:
The Autodesk vision is to help everyone imagine, design, and make a better world. Sometimes better involves preserving what we have.
Thanks, Dace. If you want to read Dace's full report, check out his blog post.
Preservation is alive in the lab.