Low-Cost Real-Time 3D Reconstruction of Large-Scale Excavation Sites using an RGB-D Camera

In this paper, we present an end-to-end pipeline for the online reconstruction of large-scale outdoor environments and tightly confined indoor spaces using a low-cost consumer-level hand-held RGB-D sensor. While scanning, the user sees a live view of the current reconstruction, allowing him to intervene immediately and to adapt the sensor path to the current scanning result. After a raw reconstruction has been acquired, we interactively warp the digital model to fit a geo-referenced map using a handle based deformation paradigm. Even large sites can be scanned within a few minutes, and no costly postprocessing is required.

We developed our prototype in cooperation with researchers from the field of ancient history and geography and extensively tested the system under real world conditions on an archeological excavation in Metropolis, Ionia, Turkey. The quality of the acquired digitized raw 3D models is evaluated by comparing them to actual imagery and a geo-referenced map of the excavation site. Our reconstructions can be used to take virtual measurements that are often required in research and are the basis for a digital preservation of our cultural heritage. In addition, digital models are a helpful tool for teaching as well as for edutainment purposes making such information accessible to the general public.