Third dimension in data digitisation

Aalto Archives ceramics collection is transformed into digital 3D format with a high-tech PhotoRobot. In the following years students and teachers will be using the PhotoRobot in their own creative projects.

Jeremiasz Merkel shares his experience after his first successful 360-spins.

For thousands of years, humanity has gathered inexhaustible resources of knowledge, inventions, scientific discoveries, artworks, manuscripts and much more. Unfortunately, majority of them are still hidden in impenetrable archives spread over the world. Given current conditions, a raging pandemic and rapid computerization, unlimited and remote access to knowledge has never been more important and urgent.

With a history reaching back over 150 years, Aalto Archives is aiming to be a pioneer in the field of data digitalisation. After a successful execution of projects connected with digitalisation 50 000 theses and dissertations and nearly 200 000 photographs the vast and divers ceramic collection is the next challenge.

Digitization of ceramics with high-end technology

To enable a proper process of data acquisition the most sophisticated technology is used. The whole workstation has a cunning name: PhotoRobot. Actually, it looks like a small spacecraft. Despite the large size, nearly the whole digitalisation process can be controlled remotely by an inconspicuous laptop. By clicking proper command, you are able to adjust the position of multicam bow, follow the live view from different cameras and even change parameters like shutter speed or aperture.

After implementation of relevant settings and clicking the start button, the magic begins. The object starts to rotate and stop in regular intervals, lights are flashing widely, and three cameras are taking photos from three different angles simultaneously. The entire operation takes around 3 minutes after which you have access to 108 perfectly sharp photographic images. The images are saved locally but also in the cloud, so that anyone from anywhere can have the remote access to the outputs of any particular photo session.

What can you do with the obtained photos? Possibilities seem endless, starting from publishing photos in online catalogues and the production of 360-degree rotating images but also creating 3D models and making them available via different platforms and various virtual reality headsets. Our only limitation is human’s creativity and imagination. Stay tuned and follow our project to discover that the “future of the archives is now”!

Written by Jeremiasz Merkel, current main user of the PhotoRobot at the Aalto Archives

Aalto University Archives

The Archives services are responsible for the long-term preservation and digitisation of official documents, media and other outputs produced by the university, information services related to the archive collections and for issuing instructions on records management and archiving procedures. The archives' website contains information on collections, services and activities.

Learn more about the Aalto University Archives and VRC
Aalto University Archives image collections contain negatives
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