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iSTAR to Support Digital Preservation of At-Risk Heritage Sites in Syria

Speed of capture, image quality and ease-of-use identified as key product attributes for sensitive mission

NCTech, the developer of reality imaging systems, today announced that its iSTAR panoramic camera has been selected for a mission to digitally document dozens of at-risk sites in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.

The mission, dubbed Project Anqa, is a joint initiative between CyArk, a non-profit organization that has digitally preserved scores of the world’s most famous cultural sites, and the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). CyArk and ICOMOS, a non-governmental, global organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of cultural heritage sites, will work with local experts in the Middle East to record cultural landmarks using reality-capture technologies such as 3D laser scanning, photogrammetry, and traditional survey.

Designed for rapid 360 degree imaging, iSTAR is a panoramic camera that precisely captures full spherical immersive images and high resolution panoramic data streams for efficient visual documentation of an environment.

“The beloved heritage in the ancient ‘Cradle of Civilization’ is under threat, evidenced by the destruction of landmarks at Palmyra and Mosul,” said Ben Kacyra, president and co-founder of CyArk. “Project Anqa needs to leverage the most cutting edge and user-friendly technology available. Due to the instability in the region, in many cases we may only have one shot at doing it, so we are thrilled that NCTech has joined us as a technology Partner in this monumental challenge.”    

The iSTAR 360 degree panoramic camera rugged, lightweight and has a small footprint making it easy to transport and deploy. With zero setup time, iSTAR does not require photographic experience to operate and, with one-button capture, is fast and easy-to-use either indoors or outdoors.

“For a sensitive mission such as this, where speed of capture, quality of image and ease-of-use are essential, iSTAR is an ideal tool to rapidly capture surface detail and complement 3D scan data,” echoed Scott Lee, Director of Operations for CyArk.

iSTAR can be mounted and deployed in various methods. Terrestrial, with a standard tripod connected into the camera base, vehicle mounted using roof bars, tripod suction feet or secured under a UAV for airborne mapping.

“When we heard about Project Anqa, we immediately recognized the synergy between the project’s requirements and the core benefits of iSTAR,” said Neil Tocher, CTO, NCTech. “It is already used by organizations around the world, many of whom operate in hostile environments, so we’re confident that it will be up to the task.”

The data collected by Project Anqa at each location will generate accurate blue prints that can be used to rebuild a site if damage or destruction occurs, and millions of people will be able to virtually experience the digital monuments via a data library on CyArk’s website.

CyArk requests the nomination of additional sites for preservation and the pledging of funds towards its 500 Challenge through donations via the organization’s website.

Click here to download the full press release

Read the BBC article