3D Foundation Project

The Smithsonian Institution is the largest group of museums and research centers in the United States, with a collection of more than 138 million artifacts. Only about 2 million items are on display in the institution’s 19 museums. Most of the collection is stored in gigantic warehouses.

About ten years ago, a small, conspiratorial group of enthusiasts started 3D digitizing individual items of the huge collection. What started with just a few objects quickly grew into a huge amount of digital data.

In 2018, Smithsonian started the 3D Foundation Project, with the aim of defining uniform processes for 3D digitization. This includes not only digitization, but also the processing, archiving, distribution and consumption of digital objects and their metadata.

Frame Factory supported Smithsonian during the first two years of the project as a main contributor. We designed the main architecture and interfaces of the novel pipeline. Additionally, we developed two of the main components: the Cook, a system for fully automatic processing and conversion of 3D data, and Voyager, a web-based, interactive 3D Explorer, together with an authoring software for the easy creation of interactive 3D scenes.

All components of the project are Open Source Software and freely available.

Skills and Technologies

  • Software architecure and system design
  • Software engineering, 3D tool development in C++
  • Fullstack development with Node.js, React, Typescript, WebGL