Scanning Using Smartphone For Heritage Conservation

By Hong Ye

3D scanning, as a digital documentation and analytical tool, has been practiced for decades to support the decision-making process for heritage conservation. Site surveying, condition monitoring, documentation,
educational presentation, and other traditional aspects of heritage preservation are supported using 3D scanning data today. Considerable previous literature has demonstrated many of its abilities to support conservation goals and its great potential for expanding capabilities. However, the high cost of current professional 3D scanning often becomes a deterring factor for less well-funded projects and projects with accessible related issues.
The development of smartphones and tablets equipped with built-in sensors, such as cameras and LiDAR systems, has opened up the possibility of using them as cost-effective tools for gathering geometric data for cultural heritage. This alternative approach could revolutionize the way heritage conservation professionals collect and visualize data. The enhanced accessibility of scanning with smartphones provides a chance for students, professionals, and the public to engage in the data collection process, thus fostering the sharing of knowledge all over the research value chain.
The ability of the proposed methodology with selected smartphone application and computer software to fulfill heritage conservation goals was tested in test scans and the case study. The case study is the masterbedroom
of Reunion House designed by Richard and Dion Neutra, which built in 1951. Specifically, evaluation of iPhone 13 Pro built-in LiDAR system accuracy through iOS application SiteScape, and the digital products’ availability and effectiveness from such device was conducted by comparing to the performance of a Leica RTC 360 professional scanner. Furthermore, smartphone competence in creating 360 degree photograph virtual tour was demonstrated with Matterport Capture application. Through an analysis of the acquisition process, registration, and point cloud quality, the strength and limitations of the smartphone scan method are discussed. Due to resolution, Smartphone LiDAR scan for heritage conservation is not recommended for site survey and monitoring purposes. It can be used for generating drawing for furniture in scale 1/4’=1’-0”, however not qualify for other architectural drawing scales. It is recommended for education purposes for its cost-effectiveness, ease of use, and universal shareability. The potential to assist heritage conservation professionals can be further explored with more advanced smartphone devices in the future.