Workshop on 3D Knowledge Technologies for Cultural Heritage Applications: Introduction and position statements
Workshop on 3D Knowledge Technologies
for Cultural Heritage Applications
12 September 2009, Vienna, Austria (in conjunction with the 15th International
Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia - VSMM 2009)
This workshop targets at the scientific community working in the field of 3D graphics
and knowledge technologies and aims to bring together researchers, 3D content
creators/users and CH professionals. Its’ objective is also to establish a scientific forum
for exchanging and disseminating novel ideas and techniques, and trace future research
and technological directions in the emerging and highly multi-disciplinary research field
of Semantic 3D Media.
The workshop is organized and sponsored by the EU FP7 ICT project FOCUS K3D
(http://www.focusk3d.eu) and supported by the Archaeology & Cultural Heritage
Application Working Group of FOCUS K3D.
FOCUS K3D (ICT-2007-214993) is a Coordination Action (CA) of the European Union's
7th Framework Programme. It aims at promoting the adoption of best practices for the
use of semantics in 3D content modelling and processing. For this, FOCUS K3D has
identified four application areas that are both consolidated in the massive use of 3D
digital resources (Medicine and Bioinformatics and CAD/CAE and Virtual Product
Modelling) and emerging (Gaming & Simulation and Archaeology & Cultural Heritage).
A state-of-the-art report (STAR) was produced for each of the four application areas as
part of the CA’s promotion activities. These four STARs are meant to identify the general
trends in the respective area, for which 3D-related semantic research needs to be pursued.
In the remainder of the project – through the thematic workshops, personal
communications and the compilation of a research roadmap – the FOCUS K3D team will
try to identify concrete steps to be taken in the near future that are heading in the right
directions as suggested by the STARs.
The Archaeology and Cultural Heritage domain is characterized by an increasing volume
of 3D digital content and increased 3D digitization efforts. The main interest of the
community focuses on the organization and presentation of archaeological/cultural
heritage content to virtual visitors. The development of educational applications for
connecting real and virtual artefacts is another area of interest for the cultural heritage
community. 3D models and virtual spaces have huge potential for enhancing the way
people interact with museum collections and e-learning environments.
Although great technological progress has been achieved, the involvement of cultural
institutions with knowledge technologies related to 3D is still limited. The technology for
managing and searching 3D content still requires a great deal of research effort when
compared to text- or image-oriented technologies.
During the FOCUS K3D project, we contacted a questionnaire survey with the aim of
collecting information on the methods and practices for 3D content use and sharing in
various domains. One of these domains was the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage
domain. Part of the goals of the questionnaires were to identify the use of current
methodologies for handling 3D content and coding knowledge related to 3D digital
content in the different contexts and also to identify possible gaps and new lines of
Our survey showed that although the creation and/or capture of 3D models does not
appear to trouble professionals (users, developers, scientists, creators of 3D content,
publishers/dealers of 3D repositories, etc.), however the management of 3D collections is
at an early stage and in many cases non existent at all. Our survey results confirmed the
current situation and revealed some specific problems and shortcomings related to 3D
Commonly, people deal with geometric and structural aspects of 3D models while the
semantic aspect appears only for the management of more complex models. Almost
everybody is aware of knowledge technologies, even if half of the people questioned
claim not to be familiar with them. Concerning the adopted knowledge technologies,
there is a wide preference for databases and metadata and some of them use quite often
taxonomies and ontologies but not for 3D content.
Practices and methodologies obviously vary widely from scientists, researchers,
developers, designers, project managers, to publishers and dealers of 3D content.
Concerning the actual amount of data, there is a huge variety ranging from just a few
models (e.g. ten) to very large collections (e.g. thousands of models). Most of the data are
stored on file servers or proprietary repositories. Often rather primitive approaches are
used for handling 3D content (e.g. using file and folder names to encode information
about the contained data) and that there is an apparent lack of information about
knowledge technologies or at least a common misunderstanding or misuse of the related
terminology. Tools that are particularly designed for organizing, browsing, and searching
3D content are commonly not used.
People from the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage domains claim to be dissatisfied with
the way they manage and store 3D content and they would expect an improvement. Areas
mentioned for improvement or for which they feel that the use of 3D knowledge
technologies can provide a solution include functionalities related to the documentation
and identification of objects and parts of them, automatic extraction of geometric and
semantic information from models, better visualization, and improved search using
semantic and/or geometric criteria.
A noteworthy observation is that 3D collections are becoming more and more demanding
in terms of management, preservation, and delivery mechanisms. Our survey results
confirmed the current situation and revealed some specific problems and shortcomings
related to 3D knowledge management. There is significant debate whether the approaches
adopted for digital libraries are suitable also for this kind of digital objects.
Although the Cultural Heritage community is well aware of knowledge technologies,
which are used for other kind of content (e.g. text, images), no particular
methods/standards are used for managing and organizing 3D content. Current practices in
knowledge management include the use of standards for interoperability like CIDOC-
CRM, Dublin Core metadata and MPEG-7, and standards for data exchange like X3D,
VRML and COLLADA.
We summarize our observations in the following position statements:
3D digital representations are often neglected in efforts to create large-scale
libraries and there is also a lack in effort by cultural heritage institutions to
acquire and use knowledge about 3D content.
Whereas text and image digitization and management are rather mature
technologies, the technology necessary to fully benefit from 3D knowledge
management is not yet within easy reach of most cultural institutions and
professionals. A major challenge towards semantic 3D data management is to
provide effective content-based and semantic-based organization and searching.
Content organization is a fundamental service that first helps the user to navigate
and formulate queries. Moreover, it allows an efficient retrieval of the content of
interest, which could strongly reduce a large amount of unproductive time.
Current limitations are mostly related to the lack of specialized tools for 3D
Open problems and future directions to promote and exploit knowledge
technologies for 3D content in the Cultural Heritage and Archaeology domain
could be focused on the following challenges:
(a) facilitate automatic semantic annotation of 3D digital content;
(b) enhancement of data repositories to exploit and reuse semantic annotations;
(c) intelligent discovery and retrieval of 3D models by improving the
efficiency of semantic search engines and their integration with geometric
All of the above statements are supported by evidence found in our questionnaire survey,
literature study, and review of this area that was done as part of the state-of-the-art report
for the FOCUS K3D Archaeology & Cultural Heritage Application Working Group. We
like to put these statements for discussion and invite everyone who is involved in this
area (and especially people from the industry and working in collaboration with a
museum) to share their opinion with us and contribute to the ultimate goal of FOCUS
K3D – to foster the comprehension, adoption and use of knowledge intensive
technologies for coding and sharing 3D media content in consolidate and emerging
application communities such as gaming and simulation.