Saturday, 28 December 2019

VirtualArch: a mobile App to valorize the medieval mines of Mt. Calisio

Hello everyone,
this post regards an European Project we worked on this year: VirtualArch. The aim of this project was the tourist enhancement of some European sites characterized by an hidden (not directly visible) Cultural Heritage.
Our task was to find a way to show the medieval mines of Mt. Calisio, near the city of Trento. Most of these silver mines are not yet open to visitors and are hidden under some interesting cultural paths, created by the Ecomuseo Argentario (the ancient name of Mt. Calisio). In order to allow tourists to understand this interesting hidden heritage, we developed a mobile app, which guides the visitors through three paths, showing information about the ancient mines and their cultural landscape.
The first problem to solve was the interoperability of the app, which had to run on different mobiles (with Android, IOS, Windows, etc...). Our solution has been the development of an open source App (here the code), based on internet language, in order to be visualized without problem on most of the mobile, regardless on the Operating System. We also had to produce most of the multimedia content and, as requested by our customer (The Archaeological Office of the Autonomous Province of Trento), we rendered several 4D video regarding the life in the silver mines during Medieval age. We prepares this material with our 3D expert Cicero Moraes, thanks also to the technical advices of Dr. Nicoletta Pisu (Archaeological Office) and Dr. Lara Casagrande (Ecomuseo Argentario).
The App can be downloaded with a mobile device at this link. Due to the fact that, currently, on Mt. Calisio there is no internet, the App should be completely downloaded on the device before to reach the site. For some tasks, the App will ask to use specific devices on mobile systems, like the GPS (to track the position on the paths) or the camera (to be used for Augmented Reality). Being based on an internet language (PHP, JS, etc...), the same link will also show the App on normal computers, but without optimization for texts, images and videos.
If you want to have a preview of this App, you can simply watch the three videos here below, showing the three cultural paths and their Points Of Interest (POI).


This cultural paths is called "Sentiero delle Grave" and crosses three POI (Points Of Interest) of a cultural landscape due to the unloading of silver mining waste, which made the surrounding woods more like a savannah.

POI 1: text and images about the animals living in this habitat

POI 2: text, images and video (a flight with a drone) about the anthropic landscape of the "Grave"

POI 3: text and images about the flora of the "Le Lore" peat bog


This paths is called "Sentiero degli gnomi" and crosses five POI (Points Of Interest) of natural and cultural landscape related with the figure of gnomes and dwarfs, historically (locally) deriving from the "canopi", the ancient miners.

POI 1: text, images about the "Canopi" (medieval silver miners) and the derived figures of the folklore (gnomes and dwarfs), with a 360° panoramic view (the damages of the storm "Vaia" on the wood).

POI 2: text and images about the local lime kiln

POI 3: text and images about the "Montegpiano's peat bog" flora.

POI 4: text and images about the dress of the "Canopi" and about the local mine called "Canopa del Raita", with a video showing the exploration of its caves.

POI 5: text and images about the local mine of the "Dos del Cuz", with a slider showing the superimposition of an aerial orthophoto over the LIDAR 3D model and the map of the caves. A 3D video shows the old work outside the mines.


This paths is called "Sentiero delle Canope" and crosses eight POI (Points Of Interest) of a cultural landscape related with the ancient silver mines (called "Canope") of Mt. Calisio.

POI 1: text and images about the S. Colomba's lake and the surrounding area, characterized by many mine shafts, visible in the slider showing the superimposition of an aerial orthophoto over the LIDAR 3D model of the area.

POI 2: text and images about the ancient tools used by the miners ("Canopi"), visible within a gallery, with an interactive 3D model (in 3DHOP), showing the work under the surface.

POI 3: text and images about the local "Canopa delle Acque", with a video showing a virtual tour inside the mine.

POI 4: text and images with some technical information about the geology of the area, with a 3D video showing a section of the mountain with the "Canopa delle Acque"

POI 5: text and images about the local "Canopa dell'Uccello", with a gallery about the minerals of the area.

POI 6: text and images about the local "Canopa dei Bamponi"

POI 7: text and images about the panorama visible from the belvedere, with some information about the archaeological site of the "Redebus" (gallery) and about the historical Erdemolo's mines (Miniere di Erdemolo / Gruab va Hardimbl)

POI 8: text and images with technical information about the ancient excavation methods, with an Augmented Reality application to show 3D models of ancient tools.

I hope this post was useful.

If you want to try the App (also without visiting the sites) and you are not an Italian speaker, there is an English translation done by Claudio Parisi (just download the App and choose the English option).

Have a nice day!

Friday, 20 December 2019

Archaeology, Alexa and NLP

Hello everyone,
this post regards some test we are doing in these weeks about the application of NLP (Natural Language Processing) to archaeology. This research is conducted by our friend Andres Reyes (Arc-Team), an expert in this field.
Among the many possibilities of NLP in CH (Cultural Heritage), we decided to start with something particular and probably not so easy, but very useful for everyday work: a project manager for archaeology. The video below shows a preview of the system (how the system finds an old project).


To understand what I mean, I have to explain very fast why this tool would be a great help in our field. In Professional Archaeology (or, if you prefer Commercial Archaeology) projects can be divided in 4 main categories: excavations (probably the 70% of the work), surveys (and explorations in general), Cultural Heritage Enhancement (Valorization) and studies (mainly researches on specific archaeological and historical topics). From a logistical point of view, the most critical projects are the ones related with excavation and surveys, especially if performed in extreme conditions (Glacial Archaeology, High Mountain Archaeology, Underwater Archaeology, Speleoarchaeology, etc...), since in most cases the office (and all its comforts) is far away. Even if assisted by the strong computerization of the last 15 - 20 years, field operations can end up with errors, especially if many people work simultaneously to the same project from different area (for instance, a common mistake is giving the same code to different layers or artefacts).
A way to try to avoid errors is to use DBMSs (DataBase Management Systems) and GIS directly on the field, but this solution has some weakness, mainly related with the devices on which these software runs and with the necessity to find a comfortable location to insert the data (even if temporary). Thanks to the wider and wider coverage of internet and the new generation's smart-phones it is now simpler and faster to insert data into a main server trough a DBMS with a well designed interface (for GIS it is still better to work with a rugged laptop). Nevertheless these operations are still time consuming and keeps the archaeologist busy for a while, with all the difficulties coming from the use of a small touch-screen (gloves, dirty hands, rain, etc...). For this reason a Project Manager based on vocal commands could improve the work on the field, avoiding the main errors deriving by some of the most common stress factors (short time-table, weather conditions, several people working simultaneously, etc...).
Despite our decision to work with FLOSS, for this first experiment with NLP we decided to start with Amazon Alexa virtual assistant, for several reasons: the great effort of Amazon in developing the system, its strong diffusion among users and the good support in Italian (the language of our firts prototype). Nevertheless, as soon as we will have a first prototype, we plan to test and develop also open source solution, like Microft. BTW all our code will be released ASAP, with open source licenses, in this public repository on GitLab.
Currently our prototype is in a very early stage, but we already modified it a couple of time, with sensible changes in our strategy. For instance, in order to keep everything simple, at the beginning we based on shared google doc spreadsheets. This solution was more than enough to manage the list of codes related with US (Unità Stratigrafice, EN Stratigraphical Units), artefacts, samplings, documentations (in 3D and 2D), with also the possibility to keep controlled the budget and the working hours. soon we changed this strategy to have a more performing DBMS, based on the FLOSS PostgreSQL. Currently we are developing more options, like the possibility to ask to the Project Manager in which project we worked during a specific month.
I hope this post will be useful. If you want to collaborate to the project, please contact us. Have a nice day!

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Archeorobotics. Open Robotic Applications in extreme archaeological conditions

Hi all,
as I promised yesterday, I uploaded an English version of our contribution to ArcheoFOSS 2018. The title is "Archeorobotics. Open Robotic Applications in extreme archaeological conditions" and this paper is more detailed, since it explains the development of our archeorobotic equipment and the reason of several modifications, underlining at the same time the main benefits of using this kind of devices during extreme archaeology missions. Here is a direct link to this contribution on ResearchGate.

The ArcheoROV (A) and the ArcheoBoat (B) prototype and some results of their use in professional archaeological missions.

I hope this paper will be somehow useful in improving the discussion about the Archeorobotics and the use of Open Hardware in Archaeology.
Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

ArcheoFOSS 2018: conference proceedings now online!

Hi all,
this short post is to notify you that are finally online the conference proceedings of ArcheoFOSS 2018. As you probably know this conference is the Italian annual meeting of archaeologists who use and develop FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software). The proceedings of edition 2018 are published on the journal "Archeologia e Calcolatori" (EN: "Archaeology and Computers") and can be accessed here.
Our contribution, related with our experiences in archeorobotics, can be downloaded here (on ResearchGate).

Some photos of Arc-Team's archeorobotic devices in action

I will try to upload ASAP, here on ATOR, a more detailed version of this paper in English.
Have a nice day!
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