ProjectInside Explorer

Business Areas at Swedish ICT
Inside Explorer

Inside Explorer is an interactive visualization system that enables museum and science centre visitors interactively explore subjects scanned using medical imaging systems to learn and discover for themselves.

Inside Explorer is an interactive exhibit system based on powerful interactive visualisation hardware and specialised software that unlocks the power of discovery for museum visitors and museum curators alike. Using touch gestures alone, visitors to museums and science centres can investigate the most of complex of subjects that have been scanned using CT (Computed Tomography) or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) medical scanning systems. Subjects can vary from human anatomy, animals, natural history subjects or even ancient mummies. Anything that can be scanned, can be visualised, explored and used as the basis for an interactive experience. Visitors can peel aware layers, rotate, zoom and cut through subjects virtually and reveal hidden interior detail that has not been previously possible.

WHAT IS INSIDE EXPLORER?

The system, also known as The Virtual Autopsy Table, was developed originally to support forensic autopsy work with digital postmortems, but has now been adapted to for science communication in public spaces, initially in the area of anatomy as interactive exhibits in museums and science centres around the world. The system has already been installed for this purpose in USA, Sweden, Singapore, Spain, UK and Kazakhstan. Now it is being used to visualize and educate museum visitors about subjects from mummies to Martian meterorites.

 

WHO CAN USE INSIDE EXPLORER?

Inside Explorer is easy to use and requires no training or special knowledge. Visitors, young and old, are ehthusiastically interacting within seconds of walking up to the system. Since Inside Explorer can work with any subject that can be scanned, it is suitable for a wide range of institutions such as science centres, ancient history museums, natural history museums, aquariums or even zoos. Inside Explorer can be supplied with a number of anatomy datasets from existing databases. However, often musuems scan their own subjects or partner with local hospitals to conduct their own research. With Inside Explorer, new discoveries can immediately become the basis of a compelling intractive exhibit, and used to let visitors explore and experience the thrill of discovery for themselves. As new discoveries are made or new subjects become availaible the system can quickly and easily be updated to refresh the system with new content.

CASE STUDY - BRITISH MUSEUM (UK)

The story
Inside Explorer Table has allowed a virtual autopsy to be undertaken on one of the British Museum’s most well-known mummies and has revealed he was probably murdered. The Interactive Institute  have provided a Inside Explorer Table so visitors to the Museum will have an opportunity to use the new non-invasive technology  and discover new ways of looking at life and death in Early Egypt.

One of the key attractions in the Early Egypt gallery (Gallery 64) at the British Museum is the body of a man who was buried in about 3500 BC at the site of Gebelein in Upper Egypt. Known as Gebelein Man, he was wrapped in linen and matting, and was placed in a crouched position in a shallow grave. Discovered in 1896, this mummy is one of the best preserved individuals known from Ancient Egypt, but about whom we actually knew very little. Although he has been in the British Museum’s collections for over 100 years (acquired in 1900), it was not until 2012 that he was CT scanned for the first time. 

Inside Explorer Table make it possible for visitors to explore this natural mummy for themselves and learn how we have only now been able to discover his age and determine the surprising way that he died. Using the interactive touchscreen and the gesture based interface, it is possible to strip away the skin to expose his skeleton, and make virtual slices to view his internal organs and his brain, still present in the skull, organs that were often removed when the ancient Egyptians began to artificially mummify bodies. Information points at relevant locations will guide the visitor to explore the more significant discoveries.

Watch video from British Museum

A virtual rotation of the body shows the shape of his pelvis (hip bones), which confirms he was a male and zooming in on his leg and arm bones one can see the  fusion lines that indicate he had only recently finished growing and was probably 18-21 years old when he died. Consistent with his age, his teeth, fully visible for the first time, show light wear and no dental problems.

‘This technology allow us to learn more about life and death in ancient Egypt, but most importantly our visitors can take part in that exploration and discovery process"
-  Neal Spencer, Keeper of Ancient Egypt of Sudan, British Museum, London

In addition, these new scans are allowing us to visualize something more unexpected. A cut in his skin over his left shoulder blade doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the 3D visualisation of the CT scan shows that this was probably caused by a sharp pointed weapon 1.5-2cm wide that penetrated the underlying shoulder blade (scapula). The absence of any signs of healing and the severity of the injuries suggest that this can be considered the cause of death. Read more here.

Weapons as symbols of power and status are fairly common in the graves as this period, but evidence of violence are extremely rare. The lack of other defensive wounds suggests the injury was not a result of warfare, and that perhaps he didn’t even see it coming and could have been murdered. He has been on display for many decades, but it is only now, through the use of modern science and state-of-the-art technology that we are beginning to understand how Gebelein man lived and died.

QUICK FACTS:

Partner: British Museum
Location: London, UK
Type: Temporay exhibition 
Project: Gebelein man
Date: 2012-11-16 

Hardware: 55" mobile multitouch table 
Content: CT scan of Gebelein Man
Additional services provided: Data interpretation, visualization expertize, forensic consultting, evaluation

More information
Client website, www.britishmuseum.org
About exhibit: "Virtual autopsy:explore a naturalmummy from early Egypt"
Related blog post: "Murder and mayhem in Predynastic Egypt"
Media: Pictures on Flickr

Selected press 
BBC News (UK) , "British Museum exhibit Gebelein Man died 'violent death'" 
Dagens Nyheter (SE), "3D-teknik avslöjar förhistoriskt mord"
The Times (UK), "Murder at the British Museum: cold case experts hunt for clues to ancient mystery"
Daily Mail (UK), " Scan reveals 5,500-year-old murder mystery of British Museum's most famous mummy"
The Telegraph (UK), "Revealed: the secrets of a 5,500-year-old mummy murder mystery" 
Channel 4 (UK), "Museum sleuths unearth murdered mummy's secret"
SVT (SE), "Ny kriminalteknik avslöjar mumiemord" 
ITV News (UK),"From vimeo.com"
ABC News (US), "Modern Science Unravels Ancient Mummy Mysteries"
Dagens Nyheter (SE), "Så avslöjade svensk teknik mumiens död"
SVT (SE), "Vetenskapens Värld"
CBS News (US), "3D mapping solves 5,000-year-old murder"
CTV (CA), "Virtual autopsy reveals 5,000-year-old mummy was murdered"
Reuters (INT), "Virtual autopsy reveals ancient mummy murder"
Museum for All (UK), "British Museum opens new interactive exhibit in Egyptian gallery using Virtual ..."

LOOK AT ALL CASE STUDIES

EXAMPLE OF PARTNERS AND CLients

We have been working with several leading institutions world wide in order to design a system that will give the user of  a unprecedented experience. Below you can find some of pur clients.  
National Museum for Natural History, London, UK
British Museum, London, UK
The Field Museum, Chicago, US
Singapore Science Centre, Singapore
National Museum for Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Visualization Center C, Norrköping, Sweden
Eureka Science Center, San Sebastian, Spain
Glasgow Science Center, Glasgow, Scotland
Mobius Science Center, Spokane, US
Hüttinger Exhibition Enginering, Germany

 

IN MEDIA

Inside Explorer and its predecessor Virtual Autopsy Table have been featured in media world-wide. Below you can find some of the links to selected magazines, webblogs, videos etc.

Commercial requests

Inside Explorer is today available as a product. For commercial and partner requests please use contact details below.

Thomas Rydell
Studio director
thomas [dot] rydell [at] tii [dot] se
+46 (0) 707 731709

David Hughes
Solutions Development
david [dot] hughes [at] tii [dot] se
+44 (0) 7802 636304

 

Background AND RESEARCH

Inside Explorer is based on medical visualization technology and research developed in a cross-disciplinary collaboration between Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, Visualization Center C and Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization, Sweden. Together the team holds world leading expertize within volumetric rendering and illumination, medical imaging and interaction design. Inside 

Inside Explorer is a development of the Virtual Autopsy Table, that was first presented in June 2009. Since then The Virtual Autopsy Table has gained a vast interest from both media and the industry. The table has been featured by a large number of technology weblogs, magazines and TV shows, it has also been presented at several high-level events and conferences such as the world expo in Shanghai. 

The Virtual Autopsy Table is since 2010 commercially available for the clinical use through the Swedish medical technology company, Sectra AB. Sectra develops and sells IT-systems and products for radiology, mammography and orthopedic departments.

Since 2012 the table is also commercially available, under the name Inside Explorer,  for museum and science centers.

News

Pages

In media

Pages

Case: Mummy Explorer

In this project we have teamed up with The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, Centre for Medical Imaging and Visualization (CMIV), Autodesk and FARO in a state-of-the-art mummy visualization project where we have explored the most recent advances within reality capture, interactive visualization and 3D printing. 

As part of the development of a new permanent Egyptian exhibition, The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm is making their collection of mummies available in digital form for the first time.

Within this project mummies from the museum’s collection have been digitized in 3D using the latest 3D reality capture technology and have then made available to museum visitors through a interactive exhibition experience using the Inside Explorer Table and trough a number of 3D prints.

 

This project aim to inspire and set a new standard for how museums work with 3D digitization, interactive visualization and 3D printing to make collections more accessible to other museums, researchers and museum visitors. In this project we worked with mummies, but the same methods could of course be used on any objects, such as natural history objects and other historical artifacts.

“The technology will enable our visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the once living man behind the linen bandages. Layer by layer, the visitor can unwrap the mummy and gain knowledge of the individual's sex, age, living conditions and beliefs. With help from the technology, the mummies become so much stronger mediators of knowledge of our past.”
 

- Elna Nord, Exhibition Producer, The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm

1) CAPTURE and EXPLORE THE INTERIOR: DUAL ENERGY CT SCANNING

In this project six mummies have been CT scanned at CMIV in Linköping, Sweden. The mummies were shipped from the Mediterranean museum in Stockholm to Linköping in special crates. The shipping was planned in detail and was overseen by several experts to make sure the mummies were not harmed during the process.

At CMIV the mummies were scanned in a dual energy Siemens Somatom Definition Flash CT scanner. Special protocols developed by the radiology and forensic experts at CMIV were used to make sure that the mummies were captured in the best way possible.

By using a dual energy CT scanner its possible not only to reveal the interior in very high detail, but it it also reveal the type of material from which different objects inside the mummy are made. The dual energy technique also enables these objects to be visualized individually in greater detail.

2) CAPTURE THE EXTERIOR: PHOTOGRAMMETRY AND LASER SCANNING

Through a collaboration with California-based 3D design, engineering and entertainment software leader, Autodesk and industry leading 3D measurement technology company, FARO, the intricate surfaces, colors and textures of the mummy, cartonnage and the sarcophagus have been surface scanned using a combination of photogrammetry and laser scanning reality capture methods. The data captured is then processed with Autodesk ReCap software and the result is a textured surface mesh with extreme detail. 

3) COMBINING THE DATA AND CREATING AN INTERACTIVE USER EXPERIENCE

The volumetric data from CT scanning and the 3D mesh data and textures from surface scanning is combined in the Inside Explorer interactive visualisation table, creating a true digital representation of the mummy with a high level of detail. 

Museum researchers or visitors are then able to use simple multi-touch gestures to explore the mummy as a whole or zoom in to see fine detail, such as carving marks on the sarcophagus. They can also remove the outer casings, unwrap the mummy, and peel off layers from the body to reveal anatomy and artifacts wrapped together with the body.

4) FROM ATOMS TO BITS TO ATOMS – CREATING A TACTILE EXPERIENCE

To make the mummy even more accessible, parts of the digital model have been recreated using 3D printing technology.  The 3D printed objects can be used to enhance the visitor experience, in educational activities or to improve access for visually impaired visitors.

One astonishing example of how 3D printing can be used is a golden amulet in the shape of a falcon embedded in the mummy. The Falcon have been digitized CT and then by using a combination of modern printing technology and traditional metal casting, the amulet has been recreated to once again take physical form.

The Golden Falcon and other amulets seen in the CT scanning.

The 3D printed copy of the falcon in gold-plated brass. 

Visitors are offered the unique experience to touch, hold and physically explore an exact copy of the golden amulet with their own hands, an amulet that was wrapped with the mummy over 2000 years ago and still remains hidden within its folds. 

The set of Sarcophaguses have been printed in a full color using a state-of-the-art CMYK 3D printer. The result is very high detail and  a photorealistic impression.

SEE IT IN ACTION

The final result of this project is presented in the permanent Egyptian exhibition at the The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (Medelhavsmuseet) in Stockholm. For more information and opening times please visit the museum website

You can also experience this project at Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco. For more information and opening times please visit The Gallery website.

GET IN TOUCH

Are you a museum professional, journalist, tech-junkie interested in getting more information about this project or about 3D digitization in general, please contact us using insideexplorer [at] tii [dot] se.

The Team

This project is a collaboration between Interactive Institute Swedish ICT at  Visualization Center C in Norrköping, Center For Medical Imaging and Visualization (CMIV), The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities, Autodesk and FARO.

PRESS AND MEDIA

Press release 2014-02-20 "Groundbreaking visualization and 3D technologies reveal hidden ancient Egyptian treasures"
Press release 2013-06-19 - "Unwrap a real mummy – Museum visitors explore historic artifacts using state of the art 3D reality capture and visualization technology"
Press release 2013-04-12 - "Medelhavsmuseets mumier på virtuellt obduktionsbord" (Swedish)
Press photos on Flickr

In Media

A selection of media:

National Geographic, ES, "Crean una reproducción digital de una momia"
Fast Company, "Museum Invites Visitors To Unwrap A Mummy, Virtually", 
The Verge, "Museum lets visitors 'digitally unwrap' an Egyptian mummy", 
BBC News, "The digital unwrapping of the Egyptian priest Neswaiu" 
The Creators Project, "New Exhibition Allows Visitors To Digitally Explore The Insides Of Ancient Mummies"
Ny Teknik, "3d-skrivare visar mumiens skatt" (Swedish)
Bright.NL, "In Zweden kan je mummies digitaal uitpakken" (Dutch) 
International Business Times, "Want to See What's Inside an Egyptian Mummy's Bandages? Now You Can Digitally Unwrap it"
Autodedesk - Its Alive in The Labs - "Autodesk Gallery Exhibit: Inside Explorer Table"
Svenska Dagbladet, "Uppfriskande vinkel på Egypten"
Wired UK, "Digitised mummies go on display in Stockholm", 20140222
Shanghai Daily, "When 3D digitalization meets Egyptian mystique", 2014022
SVT (Video), "Inuti sarkofagen", 20140222
DN, "Nu träder mumierna fram i 3D", 20140222
Autodesk - Its Alive in the Lab, "Autodesk Gallery Exhibit: Inside Explorer Table"
Digital Meets Culture, "Mummies virtually unwrapped in Sweden"
International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work, "Medelhavsmuseet mummies to be revealed in 3D" 
United Press International - "Swedish museum to let visitors virtually 'unwrap' mummies"
Club Innovation & Culture France, "Les visiteurs du Medelhavsmuseet de Stockholm vont découvrir des momies égyptiennes grâce à la 3d"
Museum Association, "Museum Practice"
Radio Sweden, "Peering into a mummy without unwrapping it", 2014022
Metro.se, "De avslöjar vad som gömmer sig i mumien", 20130613 (Swedish)
SVT, "Ny röntgenteknik kartlägger mumier", 20130502 (Swedish)
BBC News,"Museum visitors can 'unwrap' a mummy", 20130628
Wired UK, "Swedish museum digitises Egyptian mummies", 20130628
The Guardian, "Bringing mummies back to life in Sweden – in pictures", 20130717
Le Point.fr, "Les momies égyptiennes débarquent en 3D (dans vos musées)", 20130714
Huffington Post, "It's Alive! Stockholm Museum Brings Mummies To Life In 3D", 20130710
Spiegel Online, "Mumien auswickeln wie die Profis", 20130708
Daily Mail Online, "3D scan of the cartonnage of the mummy Neswaiu", 20130704

SUPPORT

This project is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.