The Smithsonian Institution is the largest group of museums and research centers in the United States, with a collection of more than 138 million items. Only about 2 million items are on display in the institution’s 19 museums. Most of the collection is stored in gigantic warehouses.

The Smithsonian’s 3D digitization team started creating three-dimensional scans and replications of the museum’s most iconic objects, including the Wright Brother’s flyer, Amelia Erhart’s space suit, and the Cosmological Buddha, an ancient Chinese buddha figure from the late 6th century.

On behalf of Autodesk, I designed and implemented the X 3D Explorer, a browser-based 3D viewer that lets you examine the growing collection of digitized objects. The explorer offers easy to use tools for taking measurements, creating cut-through views, changing lights and materials. “Do not touch” doesn’t apply here. The results of the user’s research and exploration can be shared on a variety of social media channels.

The X 3D Explorer is built using the latest in web-technologies, HTML5, CSS3, and WebGL.

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