Millions of Points in Your Web Browser: CyArk Launches New Browser-Based 3D Viewer

Critical to CyArks mission is the free dissemination of rich 3D content from cultural heritage sites. Our primary vehicle for dissemination is our website and since launching the site in 2004 we have been working to implement the latest in web technologies to serve richer content in more immersive ways. Our new 3D Viewer takes advantage of newly adopted web technologies to allow our users to rotate, cut, and measure 3D point clouds and mesh models all within an internet browser.

So how did we do it? Landon Silla, CyArks Manager of Software Development explains, This new viewer comes as a replacement (not just an update) to our previous viewer and the improvements are significant. We’ve rewritten the code from the ground-up. This 3D Viewer is developed using a new technology, WebGL . We also used the Three.js library to aid in development.

This new 3D Viewer allows us to display more points or polygons, offers better controls and functionality for the users and because it runs in several different browsers, it is supported on both the Windows and Mac platforms. We have also made substantial improvements in the functionality and usability of the viewer, simplifying the tools and interface so that they can be used by the professional and public alike.

One of my favorite point clouds is Temple 1 from Tikal:

For models, my favorite is the mountain and sculpture at Mt. Rushmore:

You can even see and explore the Hall of Records behind the heads.

Here are few examples of some of the key features:

Fig. 1 Upon opening the point cloud, users can rotate the point cloud by simply clicking and dragging. Right clicking allows you to pan and the scroll wheel provides zooming capability.

Fig. 2 Users can change the background color to a color of their choice to more easily view the selected point cloud

Fig. 3 In viewing meshes, the user has the additional option to view the wireframe of the model

Additional Technical information:

Supported Browsers include: recent versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple’s Safari .

Internet Explorer is not supported, however you can install the Chrome Frame plug-in in Internet Explorer with just a few clicks and the viewer will work through the frame.

For Mac Safari users, WebGL is disabled by Default (the Windows version of Safari does not yet support WebGL). To enable it you should follow these instructions:

(1) Open Safari and in the Safari menu select Preferences

(2) Click Advanced tab in the Preferences window

(3) At the bottom of the window check the "Show Develop menu in menu bar" checkbox

(4) Open the Develop menu in the menu bar and select Enable WebGL

About the Author

Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee... Currently Director of Projects and Development, CyArk. Originally trained as an archaeologist, Elizabeth Lee has managed projects for CyArk all over the world. A California based non-profit, CyArk has digitally preserved over 50 important heritage sites including Pompeii, Tikal, Ancient Thebes, Chichen Itza, and Babylon. Ms. Lee currently directs all aspects of digital preservation project work and development. She is also responsible for strategic development for the CyArk 500, helping organize themes within the 500 and expeditions to both Mexico and Scotland. Prior to joining CyArk, Ms. Lee founded the UC Berkeley/CyArk Visualization Lab and served as instructor for the UC Berkeley/CyArk Internship Program. Ms. Lee is a regular presenter at 3D digital documentation conferences around the world and in addition to presenting scholarly papers to the cultural heritage community. She has also been published in The American Surveyor, the Leica Reporter and Professional Surveyor Magazine. She holds a degree in Anthropology with honors from the University of California at Berkeley.
Contact Elizabeth Article List Below