This award provides funding to support two planning visits to Taiwan and preliminary data acquisition and testing of new visualization methods with the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taipei. The purpose of the project is to develop a collaborative research project on the application of advanced visualization and digitization techniques to the examination and representation of otherwise inaccessible antiquities and documents. The PI has been developing various methods for non-invasive analysis, including micro-CT, multi-spectral imaging, and registered shape acquisition and shape restoration, that allow inspection and display of historical materials that are otherwise too fragile to handle. This planning project will demonstrate the utility of the new techniques for a broad range of research applications.
This planning visit gives access to the large repository of unique and priceless objects and documents in the Museum. The project offers benefits in two respects: First, the technology that is being developed and demonstrated opens up opportunities for better analysis in a variety of fields from archeology and anthropology to physics and materials science. At the same time the new information that is revealed from the exceptional collections at NPM provides a new window for exploration and study of the history of science and technology in ancient China. This capability provides an interesting demonstration of the benefits of science to the public, both in Taiwan and globally. The information revealed by the inspection of rare items will be available for both specialists and the public at large.
This project generated a pilot data set and associated algorithms for analyzing spectral images of damaged manuscript pages as *layers*. The system for acquiring these images was deployed on site and allowed the capture of high resolution multispectral images followed by image segmentation to produce aligned semantic layers. This demonstration also gave rise to algorithms for layer restoration (digital restoration approaches) and the visualization of the impact of this restoration. In order to obtain the pilot data set and develop the algorithms, the research team worked to develop a working relationship with scientists at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. The research team worked together with the NPM to select appropriate material for study and to capture the data with custom instrumentation on-site. This data was then analyzed and processed into the layers, which were presented to the NPM scientists as a proof-of-concept. As a by product of the work, the team developed a novel scanning method to extract the reverse side (and hidden-side) text of pages bound into Taiwanese-style manuscript pages. The text for this system can be extracted without the need to unbind the pages, which often is a barrier to digitization. The method shows promise for revealing the hidden text trapped within a large collection of manuscripts present in many collections in China.