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Since 2017, Factum Foundation has been developing a new surface scanning system designed specifically for the fine surface texture of flat or semi-flat surfaces such as paintings, murals or sculptural bas-reliefs. The objective is to produce a fast and portable scanner that is capable of recording high resolution 3D surface texture for both digital visualisation and material output.

The scanning system will be based on the techniques known as photometric stereo and Reflectance Transmission Imaging (RTI). Both employ computational methods to extract very detailed information about the surface of an object using 2D images taken under specific lighting arrangements. Factum’s scanning system will integrate data from other 3D recording techniques - such as photogrammetry or time of flight cameras (TOF) – with RTI / photometric stereo derived depth maps.

The scanner is in development.

Abhijit Dhanda working on the prototype scanner © Otto Lowe for Factum Foundation

Abhijit Dhanda and Enrique Esteban working on the scanner prototype © Otto Lowe for Factum Foundation

Enrique Esteban working on the photometric scanner © Otto Lowe for Factum Foundation

Recording tests with the 'standard board'. It contains types of surfaces that commercial 3D scanning systems find difficult to capture © Otto Lowe for Factum Foundation

For more information about our new technologies for cultural heritage digitisation contact


The project is being led by Jorge Cano and Enrique Esteban from the Engineering Department at Factum Foundation. Adam Weigert and Abhijit Dhanda – students from the NSERC CREATE Heritage Engineering program in collaboration with the Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) at Carleton University, Canada – have made significant contributions to the development.

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