Augmented reality to study the deterioration of European cultural heritage caused by climate change and wars

Cristina PortalÚs
Cristina PortalÚs
ChemiNova, a project led by the Institute of Robotics and Information and Communication Technologies (IRTIC) of the University of Valencia, has received €3.5 million from Horizon Europe to develop an intelligent computing system aimed at facilitating heritage conservation European culture damaged by climate change and civil conflict. The initiative involves different European centres and institutions, including the Faculty of Geography and History and the ETSE of the UV.

Through the use of data, ChemiNova aims to develop a set of Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality tools, the use of which will mainly involve professionals in the conservation of artistic, cultural and architectural heritage. "It is about creating novel and cost-effective forms of remote and in situ monitoring of cultural heritage assets, reusing existing technologies and providing conservators with advanced analysis of structural and chemical damage due to threats of human origin", explains Cristina PortalÚs, researcher responsible for the DINA group at IRTIC and coordinator of the European project.

Inspired by the chemical experimentation game of the 1960s, which included the necessary tools to have a home laboratory, ChemiNova is now based on non-destructive and portable data acquisition technologies, which, together with analysis using Artificial Intelligence, allow inspections adaptable to different scenarios and facilitate non-professional use of the system. One of its aims, in fact, is to involve citizens in conservation processes by collecting data and through what is called ’citizen science’. "We also find it interesting to put the technology in the hands of non-professional users who can contribute to the conservation, in the analysis and surveillance processes of a heritage that is also theirs", adds PortalÚs.

Thus, the project branches into different tools based on an algorithmic machine learning method - Deep Learning - called ChemiAI. These are ChemInspection - a tool for diagnosis using rich 3D models - ChemiModel - for the 3D reconstruction of objects from images - ChemiSensing - for the remote analysis of the state of heritage objects - and ChemiSee, for the analysis of the impact of climate change and war conflicts on heritage.

The project, which has just begun its journey and will be developed over the next three years, includes a total of four pilot tests on the following European monuments and collections: the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, in Ukraine; the Collection of the University of Palermo, in Italy; the Sch÷nbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, and the La Nau building of the University of valencia.

ChemiNova: Novel Technologies for On-Site and Remote Collaborative Enriched Monitoring to Detect Structural and Chemical Damages in Cultural Heritage Assets , as the project is officially called, is endowed with 3.5 million euros from the European Horizon Europe Program, more than 850 from which will be managed by the University of Valencia, coordinator of the project and the consortium formed for its execution.

From Italy, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the UniversitÓ degli Studi di Palermo (UNIPA) and the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (CNR-ISAC) are part of the consortium. From Ukraine the National Conservation Area "St. Sophia of Kyiv" (NCA-SSK). Also part of the project are Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitńt Hannover (LUH) and ART+COM AG (ARTCO), from Germany; 4D-IT GmbH (4D-IT) and Schlo├č Sch÷nbrunn Kultur - und Betriebsges.m.b.H. (SKB), from Austria; University of Burgundy (UB), France; DIADRASIS Interdisciplinary research on Archaeological & Architectural Conservation (DIADRASIS), from Greece, and Universitatea Tehnica Cluj-Napoca (UTC), from Romania.