3D laser project aims to preserve Calif. missions

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"Digital preservationist" Ben Kacyra (Photo credit: Ted.com)

“Digital preservationist” Ben Kacyra (Photo credit: Ted.com)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California’s historic Spanish missions are getting cutting-edge 3D treatment.

The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday that an Oakland-based nonprofit called CyArk is using 3D technology to scan the centuries-old missions in an effort to preserve them.

The idea is to make a virtual 3D model of the structures so if they’re damaged in earthquakes or fires, for example, the model provides a precise outline down to the millimeter for easier reconstruction.

CyArk is the brainchild of retired civil engineer Ben Kacyra who developed a portable 3D laser scanner that can send out 50,000 beams a second.

Kacyra says his invention was inspired by the Taliban’s destruction of two ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001. He now wants to digitally preserve the world’s historic monuments.

Watch Ben Kacyra speak at a Ted Conference, which includes a demonstration of how the technology works:

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