Research Areas & Facilities

Cultural Heritage Technologies’ research line aims at fostering interdisciplinary collaborations in frontiers projects that seek to cross the boundaries of traditional research in Cultural heritage, and Digital Humanities at large.

The line supports innovative ideas and approaches that require truly multi- and trans-disciplinary teams and looks into ways in which technology can expand the scope of research in cultural heritage and humanities. It capitalises on IIT's renowned strengths in 3D digitisation and retrieval, machine learning and molecular and nano-materials sciences, and it brings together the work being done in these areas.

The Center for Cultural Heritage Technologies currently focuses on three broad research areas, drawing from well-established competencies and expertise available at IIT.


3D Digitisation

The Digitisation domain mainly focuses on the development of next generation technologies for 3D scanning of artefacts through the introduction of advanced computer vision and signal processing techniques. Primary aim of the 3D digitisation is the creation of digital copies (‘twins’) of cultural artefacts held at galleries, archives and museums. This Research Area utilises high-resolution images and structured light scanner data to generate 3D reconstructions of cultural artefacts, exploring emerging computer vision and signal processing techniques. Further, focus of this Research Area is the development of search methods to provide adequate access to the large amount of digitised artefacts, making available the software and hardware outcomes of this work.

3D Digitisation laboratory is equipped with:
UR5e and UR3e robot arms: flexible collaborative table-top robot arms equipped with intuitive programming for tackling medium-duty applications.
2 Fujinon high resolution C-mount lenses providing support for up to 5-megapixel camera: compact and robust lenses engineered for computer vision applications.


Machine Learning

The digital documentation of cultural heritage (CH) often requires the development of methods to infer structure and extract patterns from data. Machine Learning research at the CCHT mainly focuses on the development of innovative methods for extracting information from cultural heritage datasets. This Research Area studies statistical machine learning algorithms for the analysis and categorisation of multimodal information (visual, textual, relational) into semantically coherent one, based on existing or to-be-created cultural heritage datasets. This Research Area highly intersected Computer Vision applications, and supports the chemistry and conservation science areas by predicting material properties and interface connections.

The Center for Cultural Heritage Technology is equipped with own computational capabilities for training machine learning methods in effective and efficient way. 
Computational resources:
- 2 Workstation BOXX: Dual Intel Xeon SP Gold 5122 3.6Ghz; 128GB DDR4; 4 GPU NVIDIA RTX2080Ti.
- 5 Desktop Dell Aurora: with i9 octa-core; 32GB DDR4; 1 GPU NVDIA GTX1080Ti.
Moreover, the center has bought license of the cutting-edge software for analysing and visualising EO data.
Software resources:
- Envi image analysis software with the additional Deep Learning module;
- ArcGIS software.




Characterisation and Protection of Material Culture

Research within this area deals with the characterisation of material culture and development of custom-based preservation solutions. First scope is to define new approaches for investigating the characteristics of cultural heritage items, combining existing and emerging methods. The aim here is to establish diagnostic protocols that includes the most suitable analytical procedures to be adopted for the analysis of a given artefact/surface. This activity serves to understand the different degradation processes and identify the most urgent protection needs. The Research Area further aims at developing protective coatings based on composition and deterioration state of Cultural Heritage items. The protective coatings are designed to slow down the degradation of the archaeological/artistic objects, while acknowledging the guidelines of the most advanced restoration philosophies.

Characterisation and Protection Laboratories are equipped with:
- ageing chambers: one bench-top clime chamber with temperature and humidity controller; one weathering chamber with Xenon lamp, water spray and temperature measurement.
- two chemical laboratories equipped with chemical hoods for synthesis and deposition of coating film with automatic systems for dip coating and spray coating
- potentiostat for electrochemical analysis on corrosion, impedance measurements and diagnostic.
- portable hyperspectral camera for reflectance imaging spectroscopy (400-1100 nm).

Further, CCHT strictly collaborates with other Facilities of the central IIT hub in Genoa, as Materials Characterisation - coordinator Mirko Prato.