View the original press release by reporter Vanessa Richards at the IUPUI newsroom.
The handheld Creaform 3D scanner looks like an old-school video game controller, a clunky throwback to the early days of Atari. But these mobile 3D scanners used by the staff in the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Scholarship are very advanced, and they are changing the way we record recent history, ancient history, and even the future.
“About two years ago, we decided to explore 3D technology and what scanning could look like,” said Jenny Johnson, head of digitization services for the Center for Digital Scholarship. “Every community and cultural heritage institution that we work with has 3D objects. As the technology has gotten better, computer processing has gotten better, and because costs have been reduced a little bit with the technology, we decided to dive into the specifics and see what we could do. The Benjamin Harrison team was really interested in this, and they’ve got an eCollection initiative to document more of their items.”
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site houses a large collection of former U.S. President Benjamin Harrison’s belongings in his former home, including furniture, pottery, silver, plates, and dresses. In collaboration with the Center for Digital Scholarship, these items will soon be scanned, and the digital files will be available online to view and to download. This means that anyone with access to a 3D printer will be able to create copies of the collection items. The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site eCollection initiative is planned to go online around November.
Archaeologists are using the technology, as well. The Lawrenz Gun Club is a Mississippian Period fortified Native American village and mound complex in the central Illinois River Valley, active between the years 1150 and 1425. Jeremy Wilson, associate professor of anthropology at IUPUI, studies it; he and his team have been working on the site since 2010. He works with the IUPUI 3D digital archivists to record what they have found. Wilson’s ultimate goal, in partnership with associate professor Dan Johnson from the geography department, is to build a virtual representation of the site and how the village changed over time.
The digital renderings of these items are available in the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Scholarship’s online collection.