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CyArk and Iron Mountain Join Forces to Provide Virtual Reality Access to 18th Century Buddhist Temple in Taiwan

By applying evolving virtual reality technology to the preservation of ancient artifacts, the world will have a unique opportunity to virtually visit the Temple

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The threat of losing Lukang Longshan Temple, one of the most revered Buddhist monasteries in all of Taiwan, is finally gone. Using the latest in reality capture technology, the Lukang Longshan Temple has been digitally protected thanks to CyArk and Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE: IRM), two organizations dedicated to preserving world heritage sites.

First designated a National Monument by the Ministry of Culture in 1983, the temple contains a wealth of rarely seen wooden sculpture including carved pillars, and an incredible caisson (spider web) ceiling supported on dougong (interlacing wooden brackets). Measuring over 5,000 square meters, the Longshan Temple dates to the 18th century (Ming Dynasty) and is one of the most revered Buddhist Monasteries in all of Taiwan owing to its architectural beauty and spiritual significance. This, the largest temple in Lukang Township, is also its oldest Buddhist site, dedicated to the bodhisattva, Guanyin, a female symbol of mercy venerated by Mahayana Buddhists.

Unfortunately, Longshan Temple is at risk from the forces of both man and nature. The threat of destruction from these forces has never been higher, making world heritage sites like the Lukang Longshan Temple more endangered from terrorism, intentional destruction, rising sea levels, acid rain, excessive tourism and urban sprawl. Longshan Temple is especially vulnerable, as it sits atop a tectonically active region called the “Ring of Fire,” home of an estimated 90 percent of all the world’s earthquakes.

In March of this year, a team from CyArk traveled to Taiwan to digitally scan and capture the Longshan Temple. Using 3-D scanning technology, the team captured both internal and external imaging scans of the Longshan Temple, and used drones to aerially capture data as well. That data was then rendered by CyArk’s technology team into 3-D imagery that allows the Longshan Temple to be viewed online by anyone in the world.

“Now, no matter what the future holds, we will have a record of this site and an ability to restore the temple,” said CyArk Field Manager, Ross Davison. “A researcher in the twenty-second century will now be able to virtually visit Lukang and conduct their research in the virtual environment—it will literally be like stepping back in time.”

Additionally, for the first time, CyArk has also integrated virtual reality (VR) technology capabilities so that the Longshan Temple can be “toured” as if you are really there. Using the free Sketchfab platform, visitors will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with the intricate ceiling of the Buddhist temple.

“Most exciting of all, is that all of these extraordinarily beautiful architectural features will be accessible to everyone. Thanks to the generous support of Iron Mountain this is the first time the Longshan Temple will be available to virtually tour through the website or a VR mobile device,” says Mike Evans, CEO of CyArk.

CyArk is a non-profit leading the field work of capturing the precious data. The work was supported onsite by the China University of Technology (CUTe). Iron Mountain, the global leader in storage and information management, is the sole corporate sponsor of the project through its Living Legacy Initiative, providing funding and in-kind data storage and protection services. Since 2012, Iron Mountain has supported CyArk’s mission to preserve world heritage sites in five years. To date, CyArk has digitally preserved more than 200 sites on all seven continents.

“Our support of CyArk and projects like the Lukang Longshan Temple are the embodiment of our philanthropic focus on preserving our shared cultural heritage,” said Ty Ondatje, senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer for Iron Mountain. “Our customers trust us with their most precious assets. We take that responsibility very seriously. Our Living Legacy Initiative allows us to extend that trust to our communities where we live and work all over the world, ensuring that our shared heritage remains preserved and protected for generations to come.”

Visit Lukang Longshan Temple on CyArk.org


View the Temple Roof and the Dragon Pillar in VR on Sketchfab

About CyArk 
CyArk is an international nonprofit organization that uses 3D laser scanning, photogrammetry, and traditional survey techniques to create an online, 3D library of the world’s cultural heritage sites before they are lost to natural disasters, destroyed by human aggression, or ravaged by the passage of time. Spurred by the Taliban’s destruction of the 1600 year-old Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, CyArk was founded in 2003 to ensure that the world’s most precious heritage sites are protected and never lost or forgotten by digitally archiving the sites and making this unique footage accessible to the general public. www.cyark.org
About Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE: IRM) is the global leader for storage and information management services. Trusted by more than 220,000 organizations around the world, Iron Mountain’s real estate network comprises more than 85 million square feet across more than 1,400 facilities in 45 countries dedicated to protecting and preserving what matters most for its customers. Iron Mountain’s solutions portfolio includes records management , data management , document management , data centers, art storage and logistics, and secure shredding, helping organizations to lower storage costs, comply with regulations, recover from disaster, and better use their information. Founded in 1951, Iron Mountain stores and protects billions of information assets, including critical business documents, electronic information, medical data and cultural and historical artifacts. Visit www.ironmountain.com for more information.

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