Preserving History in the Metaverse
Historical buildings show us a glimpse of the past — they weather the test of time, some better than others. The ones that don’t fare quite well, sadly are soon replaced by something newer, leaving behind stories told and untold of what use to be.
Like Facebook, big tech companies claim that a virtual reality universe is imminent — in short, a “Metaverse”. The first step in transitioning a building into the metaverse is the creation of a digital twin — a virtual representation of a physical asset overlaid with real-time data.
This is how the metaverse journey began for the NUS Baba House.
The NUS Baba House is a three-storey townhouse located in Singapore’s historic district of Blair Plain, Tanjong Pagar. As a part of the NUS Centre for the Arts, it facilitates research into architectural conservation, urban and social history, and cultural hybridity.
With advanced 3D imaging technologies, a team of experts from the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Twinlogic accurately digitised the site — preserving the historic value of the building in its exact entirety in the Metaverse for future generations to enjoy.
Terrestrial LiDAR scanners are state of the art devices used to digitise spaces. Intricate historic panel carvings in the airwells, telling stories from over 200 years past were accurately digitised by the TwinLogic team with the aid of a telescopic tripod. The end result is a highly detailed 3D image — a “point cloud” that be viewed from multiple angles and shared across the internet for research and development anywhere on the globe!
Point Clouds are fantastic! Imagine a collection of points in space, so tightly packed together, they form a shape — hence the term point cloud. Each point contains a 3D-coordinate, vector and colour information that’s recognisable by most mainstream CAD tools.
Point Clouds are extremely useful, transforming the way we traditionally interact with spaces.
In the past, research teams visited the site to inspect the artefacts with traditional tools like a tape measure, clipboard, pen and paper. Fast forward to today, sites are digitised and sent to research teams anywhere in the world over the internet. When digitised correctly, accurate point clouds deviate no more than a few millimetres from actual reality.
If you’ve tried looking for a place to buy or rent in the last 24 months, then you’ve likely come across a virtual tour. Limited capacity, safe distancing measures, the pandemic has made it difficult to physically immerse oneself inside a space.
A virtual tour is the next best thing.
Once a building is digitised and archived in the Metaverse, it becomes forever immortalised. Future generations now have a way to rediscover stories of the past and reveal stories yet to be told. The future of historic buildings in the Metaverse will no doubt transform the way we interact and communicate about buildings — today we’re only scratching the surface.