It has been difficult to capture the complex interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa due to technological limitations. Until now, that is. Thanks to 3D scanning, detailed measurements of the interior architecture have now been recorded, allowing for the preservation of this data for the first time in history.
The tech was developed by CSIRO, which is Australia’s national science agency. The device itself is called the Zebedee and it’s a handheld mapping system that uses a 3D laser scanner that has flexibility thanks to a spring. This device can capture millions of measurements just as the operator walks through a space. This revolutionizes the ability to capture information about three-dimensional spaces. And it works by running this data through software that can turn the laser data points into a three dimensional map.
Previously, the very narrow staircases and intricate architectural passageways made it impossible for mapping technology to function inside. The equipment just wouldn’t fit. A handheld device is the way to go, however, allowing researchers to use 3D scanning to capture a 3D map of the whole building for the first time.
Normally, this kind of detail would take weeks, if not months to capture. The level of accuracy that this device has been able to produce in just a couple of hours, however, is astounding and definitely worth noting. During this project, the scientists of CSIRO were able to use the Zebedee device to scan the whole interior of the Tower within 20 minutes! Yes, you read that correctly. And the scan included precise and minute details of things like the stairs and notches in stone.
Dubbed “Project Pisa,” the 3D scanning project involved Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA) scientists, who believe strongly in preserving the cultural heritage of the location. They make a really good point: if the Leaning Tower of Pisa were ever to be damaged, reconstruction would now be possible thanks to the creation of this accurate 3D model. This applies to other culturally significant sites around the world.
Additionally, using 3D scanning in this manner allows for virtual tourism: those who can’t afford or are physically incapable of traveling can see historic sites with tremendous detail from the comfort of their own homes.
Whether it’s through this project with CSIRO or other projects currently going on all over the world, this new technology is allowing scientists to capture details about historic sites and preserve them forever. And if you ask us, that’s exciting.