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Digital Scholarship: 3D/AR/VR


student exploring a medieval hall in the Imagine Lab3D/AR/VR refers to three-dimensional files (3D) and the spectrum of immersive experiences you can view them, including but not limited to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). While AR overlays computer-generated images, sounds, and other sensory inputs with real-world images or views (often experienced through a smartphone camera or specialized AR glasses), VR uses a blend of computer software and hardware to re-create the sensory impression of real-world experience entirely through digital media (often experienced using a headset and hand controllers). Other formats of immersive technology include mixed reality (MR) and 360 degree photographs/film. Together, this spectrum is known as Extended Reality (XR).

Schaffer Library can support your research as you think through how to publish, host, peer review, and preserve a 3D/AR/VR project you are creating and help you locate existing 3D/AR/VR repositories or projects in your discipline or major. The MakerWeb Imagine Lab off of the Wold Atrium offers a selection of AR/VR equipment and experiences you can try out yourself! 



Schaffer Library has a limited number of student licenses for Zapworks, a platform to build and publish augmented reality experiences. 


Sketchfab is a commercial website to display, annotate, and share 3D files. While it began as a way to sell 3D assets for 3D artists and designers, it has grown to include a robust community of museums and cultural heritage sites sharing their models for free. Using the Sketchfab app, all 3D files can be viewed in virtual reality and augmented reality.

Schaffer Library's Sketchfab page includes Union student work and projects. 

The Imagine Lab:

The MakerWeb Imagine Lab at Union College has an assortment of virtual reality equipment and experiences for community members to use. Equipment includes the HTC Vive, Oculus Go, and more.

3D Digitization

3D/AR/VR content and experiences provide opportunities to create and/or explore embodied experiences that otherwise would not be possible in real life. Research projects include the 3D digitization of physical things and places that still exist, the reconstruction of things and spaces that no longer exist, and the the design of objects or landscapes that do not exist yet or never could exist in real life. 



The process of using specialized software and a series of two-dimensional digital photographs to calculate measurement data of a physical object or space. The result of this process is a number of points in 3D space called a point cloud that that be converted into a 3D model for display through the web browser, AR/VR, or other software. Librarians at Schaffer Library can give you a demonstration or tutorial on how to create 3D models in this way. Software available is Metashape and Metashape Pro.

Laser Scanner:

Specialized equipment that uses a laser to calculate measurement data of a physical object or space. The MakerWeb 3D Print Lab has access to a 3D Systems Sense scanner and a FAROArm Edge.


AR Daily Prophet:

augmented reality daily prophet

Students in Dr. Jennifer Mitchell's Beyond the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first-year preceptorial used Zapworks to create their own AR Daily Prophet newspaper to explore the interplay of voice and media. When viewers scan the Daily Prophet posters using the Zapper App, the still images move and recreate the magical quality of the newspapers in the Harry Potter world.


3D/AR Cultural Heritage:

undefinedLily Crissy ('20) created 3D models of select ceramics in the Robert Finks East Asian Ceramics Collection in the Permanent Collection to explore how museums are engaging with digital technologies to reach audiences remotely. While taking classes remotely during the pandemic, Lily included the 3D model of a ceramic tea bowl in her sculpture project to explore "silence," displaying a distant work of art on an empty pedestal she constructed at home. She emphasizes that the "mixed media work combines photogrammetry, augmented reality, and traditional sculpture techniques to emphasize the importance of virtual exhibitions and documentation, while maintaining the belief that it may not replace the original." Lily worked with Dr. Andrew Burkett, Dr. Sheri Lullo, Julie Lohnes, and Jennifer Grayburn to create the 3D model of the collection and completed the sculpture for Chris Duncan's sculpture course. 


3D Modeling Literary Architecture:

3D model of a temple ruin described in a novelStudents in Dr. Andrew Burkett's Literature of the Manor House course created 3D models of architecture described in English novels. Students analyzed literary descriptions of architecture and conducted research on architecture of that time period to model. They synthesized this research into an annotated model of key buildings or spaces in the text. You can see the students' work in the course collection on our Sketchfab page.