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Since ancient times, people have been dedicated in the reproduction of the historical sites. Nowadays, thanks to the development of modern technology, enhanced with artificial intelligence, interactive multimedia, games and virtual reality. The digital humanities can take full advantage of the new technology, to build the 3D heritage models, to create an immersive computer simulation, and to manage the digital heritage database more efficiently.

And this trend of combining 3D modeling technology with digital humanities, will continue.

Constructing the 3D Models

The digital humanity researchers and scholars can use CAD software to build a detailed CAD model and some renderings of different parts of historical sites. In the The Venetian Galeazza project[1], DH scholars and researchers not only build the CAD model of this ship, but also obtain the quantitative results with CAD and naval simulation software Orca3D. And even more surprising, they provide an interactive live demonstration for users, where we can approach to the 3D model and experience the life on that ship by ourselves.

Figure 1. CompleteCAD model of the Galeazza

             Figure 1: Complete CAD model of the Galeazza

Computer Simulation of Historical Life 

Except the 3D modeling technology, the development of VR technology also benefits a lot. The VR hardware price has dropped down to be acceptable for the wide public as a result. With the combination of 3D modeling, computer games and virtual reality, we can simulate the historical life and events from different aspects. The DH scholars and researchers use it to approach the various perspectives of life of the aboriginal tribes living in Australia throughout the history[2] as Aborigines developed a rich culture including custom, lore, and value systems.

Using this powerful tool, the DH researchers and scholars design an interactive 3D video game about exploring the life of a clan in the Parramatta basin. For the simulation game, they collected lots of information from secondary and primary sources, captured it in text and video, and applied motion capture technology to record animations. With the game, the participants can get in touch with the   Australian aboriginal life and learn so much about medicine, astronomy, arts and ceremonies.

At the moment, dialogues and written words are used to communicate with participants in the game. For the future study of the project, the researchers are finding ways to use as little as possible dialogues, which can improve the historic accuracy. Besides, as some users have slight motion sickness to vertigo during the game, the researchers have to limit the duration of VR to five minutes. So they are also trying to extend the time and maintain both 3D and VR experiences.

The demo of the simulation can be viewed at [link].

In addition to this, as CSIRO (CSIRO, 2014) have released a report, stating, ‘Australia’s cultural institutions risk losing their relevance if they don’t increase their use of digital technologies and services’[3]. So we also need to find new methods to restore the digital historical humanities data in Australia better. And for the Australian heritage includes large rock art sites and so on, the 3D data need a large storage and preferable ways of managing the online database.

Making Public Accessible to Virtual Heritage Models

Some people may wonder, although the historical sites can be reconstructed, we have no access to them. So the DH scholars and researchers predict that in a near future we need to collate and store digital heritage models of heritage sites, and to create public accessible to virtual heritage models. What they want to do are to increase public’s accessibility to heritage data, to establish a global infrastructure, institutionalized, archival standards for digital heritage, and to work forward with technological advancement[3].

Because there exists some technical obstacles, the DH researchers and scholars have some long-term targets for solving them. One of the serious problems is that there is no shared, secure, feature-rich format for 3D models. So they suppose to research on how to link 3D models with library and archival systems of literature and multimedia better. Another long-term aim is to develop evaluation mechanisms to understand how the viewed and downloaded heritage models and simulations are used.

Conclusion

To conclude, one of the trends for digital humanities is to use the modern technology such as 3D modeling, virtual reality to reconstruct the heritage sites more efficiently and to make the heritage data accessible for public. It is not so easy for DH scholars and researchers for there still exists some technical difficulties and general standards to be established.

At the moment, all these efforts of DH scholars and researchers with 3D models and virtual reality make historical sites more tangible and accessible to the general public. With the technological advancements, the prospective development for digital humanities are promising.

References:

[1] A 3D Model Of The Venetian Galeazza.Alessandro Cavinato, Beat Geissmann,  Konrad Robert Vandevelde,  Olivier Dalang, Dario Rodighiero; EPFL, Switzerland.

[2] The Aboriginal Dreaming meets Virtual Reality.Tomas Trescak, Melissa Williams, Terry Sloan,  Anton Bogdanovych, Simeon Simoff; University of Western Sydney, Australia.

[3] Creating Public Accessible Virtual Heritage Models. Erik Malcolm Champion; Curtin University, Australia.

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