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Complex laser scans show Forth Bridge in incredible detail

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Incredibly detailed scans of the Forth Bridge, Forth Road Bridge and the partially built Queensferry Crossing have been produced in a £300,000 project funded by Transport Scotland.

Undertaken by the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV), a partnership between The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation and Historic Environment Scotland, the project was one of the most challenging and complex 3D scans undertaken anywhere in the world.

It has amassed a data cloud of 37.5 billion dimensionally accurate points on the structures of the three crossings.

Following a further grant of £425,000 from Transport Scotland, digital heritage experts will now start work on learning games, augmented reality apps, real-time interactive models for virtual headset tours and video fly-throughs for release in 2018, all aimed at developing STEM skills among pupils in Scottish schools.

In the meantime, the project has released a stunning animation of the “point cloud” data of the Forth Bridge and Forth Road Bridge.

Alastair Rawlinson, head of data acquisition at The Glasgow School of Art and CDDV said: “Laser scanning each of the three bridges has posed unique challenges for our team. We have had to use our combined experience, gained through digitally documenting globally iconic structures such as the Sydney Opera House and Mount Rushmore, to create innovative methodologies to allow us to capture these incredible bridges in great detail.

“We will now use this specialised 3D dataset to develop interactive learning resources based on advanced gaming technologies and virtual reality to make the information accessible to school children across Scotland and beyond.”

Miles Oglethorpe, head of the industrial heritage team at Historic Environment Scotland, which was responsible for preparing the successful World Heritage nomination of The Forth Bridge, added: “Having such an extraordinary, detailed and accurate 3D record of the Forth Bridge is a tremendous advantage for us as we set about sharing Scotland’s sixth World Heritage Site with the World.

“UNESCO expects us to celebrate our World Heritage, and to convey it to as big an audience as possible. The latest digital technologies not only make this possible, but also allows us to consider ways of tackling some of the wider recording issues facing other World Heritage Sites across the world.”

We will now use this specialised 3D dataset to develop interactive learning resources based on advanced gaming technologies and virtual reality to make the information accessible to school children across Scotland and beyond.– Alastair Rawlinson, The Glasgow School of Art