In the last several weeks learning has moved from the classroom into the home, as schools across the world have temporarily closed.
The old way of learning involved reading textbooks or consuming content delivered through paper handouts. Sometimes live specimens or scale models could be used to enliven lesson plans, but this delivery method involved complex preparations and procurement of live specimens, as well as other costly materials.
The Future of Learning is in 3D
Traditional educational methods alone have become insufficient, as students nowadays have access to all the information they could ever want at the tips of their fingers. Students are thirsting for a deeper understanding of history and ancient artifacts that go beyond just absorbing facts.
In February 2020, an amazing body of work was released into the public domain by the world's largest museum and research center, the Smithsonian Museum.
In partnership with the Khronos Group, the Smithsonian publicly launched their Open Access initiative, which included the release of approximately 2.8 million 2D images and 3D models into the public domain.
As Patrick Cozzi, the 3D Formats working group chairman at Khronos explains, “This application of glTF™ will help the Smithsonian open the doors for significant new uses of 3D in education, research and creative domains; and it will leverage and strengthen the breadth and interoperability of the glTF ecosystem.”
Smithsonian 3D Artifacts in your Room
At Simply Augmented, we’ve been honored to participate in the Khronos 3D Commerce working group, so we were thrilled when we discovered this trove of priceless 3D content being released to the public domain.
At the same time, COVID-19 was beginning to spread across the world, closing schools and forcing students to stay at home.
We felt we wanted to do our part to support parents and teachers by making it as easy as possible for them to access this riveting content to share with children during their homeschooling lessons.
We began the process of converting the Smithsonian 3D assets into web-ready, augmented reality files and then posting them to our 3D sharing platform, Simply3D, for free.
Simply3D is an easy way for anyone to host and share augmented reality assets.
It supports glTF™ and glb file formats and allows for easy AR sharing on any mobile browser without having to download any apps.
Below are some of the initial models we have released.
Click on the images below to launch the augmented reality experiences.
We are regularly adding new artifacts, so if you sign up, you will receive weekly augmented reality artifacts directly to your inbox.
Once you’ve placed the artifact in the room you can walk around it, as though it were physically there. You can also pinch the image on your screen to zoom in or out; or drag the image to different places.
George Washington Sculpture
This first 3D model is a beautiful sculpture of our first president, George Washington.
Built in 1840 by the artist Horatio Greenough, it is made of marble and approximately 136 x 102 x 82.5 inches in size.
One of Washington’s strengths was his ability to see things as they were, not as he wished them to be. Such a clear mindset was crucial to his success.
Washington lost many battles throughout the American Revolutionary War, but he never gave up and always managed to retreat to fight another day.
Space Shuttle Discovery
Discovery was the third space shuttle orbiter vehicle to fly into space.
It entered service in 1984 and retired from spaceflight as the oldest and most accomplished orbiter of the shuttle fleet.
Discovery flew on 39 Earth-orbital missions, spent a total of 365 days in space and traveled almost 240 million kilometers (150 million miles) -- the most of any other orbiter.
It shuttled 184 men and women into space and back -- for some more than once -- with a record-setting total crew count of 251 people.
Because Discovery flew every kind of mission the space shuttle was ever meant to fly, it fully embodies the 30-year history of U.S. human spaceflight from 1981 to 2011.
NASA transferred Discovery to the Smithsonian in April 2012, after a delivery flight over the nation's capital.
Triceratops is a genus of herbivorous ceratopsid dinosaur that first appeared during the late Maastrichtian stage of the late Cretaceous period, about 68 million years ago (mya) in what is now North America. It is one of the last known non-avian dinosaur genera, and became extinct in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. The name Triceratops, which literally means "three-horned face", is derived from the Ancient Greek words τρί- (tri-) meaning "three", κέρας (kéras) meaning "horn", and ὤψ (ōps) meaning "face".
Giant Ground Sloth
Eremotherium is an extinct genus of the giant ground sloth endemic to North America and South America during the Pleistocene epoch. At up six meters long, Eremotherium rivaled even the world famous Megatherium for size. However unlike Megatherium, Eremotherium fossils are also found in the United States, making Eremotherium one of the largest ground sloths in North America.
These artifacts represent the power of the American spirit and our determination to accomplish remarkable feats.
We are confident we will weather this current storm and come together to forge new paths forward, learning new things and developing our resilience along the way.
We are excited to help make the Smithsonian 3D content accessible through our 3D platform and hope this is the beginning of a new kind of virtual learning and exploration experience.
Be sure to stay tuned and sign up to receive a new Smithsonian AR artifact every week.
About Boaz Ashkenazy
Boaz Ashkenazy is the CEO and founder of Simply Augmented, a 3D and augmented reality platform focused on making it easy for designers and manufacturers to share their ideas and products with their customers. Founded in 2017, Simply Augmented has worked for innovative brands around the world including Nike, Herman Miller, REI and Katerra. Boaz is currently a member and co-chair in the Khronos 3DCommerce Working Group helping set the standard for streamlined 3D content creation, management and display in online retail. Prior to Simply Augmented, Boaz was a founding partner at Studio 216 and an architect at the Miller Hull Partnership in Seattle.
About The Khronos Group
The Khronos Group is an open, non-profit, member-driven consortium of over 150 industry-leading companies creating advanced, royalty-free, interoperability standards for 3D graphics, augmented and virtual reality, parallel programming, vision acceleration and machine learning. Khronos activities include Vulkan®, OpenGL®, OpenGL® ES, WebGL™, SPIR-V™, OpenCL™, SYCL™, OpenVX™, NNEF™, OpenXR™, 3D Commerce™ and glTF™. Khronos members drive the development and evolution of Khronos specifications and are able to accelerate the delivery of cutting-edge platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.
About the Smithsonian
The Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846, with a generous bequest from British scientist James Smithson (1765–1829) to found at Washington an establishment for “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoological Park.
The Smithsonian’s collections document the nation’s history and heritage and represent the world’s natural and cultural diversity. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 155 million, including more than 146 million scientific specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History.