INTERNATIONAL - Google has partnered up with a non-profit organisation called CyArk to help preserve endangered world historical sites are at risk of being destroyed by natural or man-made effects, by using Virtual Reality (VR) technology. 

This new project will be called the “Open Heritage Project."

The collaboration aims to capture all the relevant data at a historical site. 

Founded in 2003, CyArk's mission statement is to “ensure heritage sites are available to future generations, whilst making them uniquely accessible today."

CyArk operates internationally and the organisation creates a 3D online library of the world's cultural heritage sites. 

Ben Kacyra – co-founder and CEO of Cyra Technologies – says he was inspired to create CyArk using Cyra’s laser-mapping technology after seeing the Taliban destroy 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, back in 2001.

This data, which will be captured by Google and CyArk, will then be used to re-create it virtually so that it can be preserved and explored online; either on a PC or a mobile device, while using a virtual reality (VR) headset.

"With modern technology, we can capture these monuments in fuller detail than ever before, including the color and texture of surfaces alongside the geometry captured by the laser scanners with millimeter precision in 3D. 

These detailed scans can also be used to identify areas of damage and assist restoration efforts," Chance Coughenour, digital archaeologist and program manager with the Google Arts and Culture division, said in a press release.

The Open Heritage models will be available online and on the Google Arts and Culture mobile apps for iOS and Android. 

The mobile apps will also support the VR tours through Google’s Daydream platform.


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