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Semantically Interoperable 3D Scientific Objects

Semantically Interoperable 3D Scientific Objects

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Published by Manolis Vavalis

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Published by: Manolis Vavalis on Oct 30, 2009
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Semantically Interoprable 3D Scientific Objects
Department of Computer & Communication Engineering, University of Thessaly, 38221 Volos, Greece.and Laboratory for Information Systems and Services, Centre for Research and Technology - Thessaly, 38500, Volos,Greece.E-mail:
mpitikak, mav, houstis
In recent years, 3D content has become more and more widespread and have been madeavailable in a plethora of online repositories. A systematic and formal approach for capturingand representing related knowledge/information is needed to facilitate its reuse, its search andretrieval, and enable the demonstration of useful applications. In this paper we present a recenteffort to design and proof the concept of a large scale framework for semantically integrating 3Dscientific objects (shape models and associated tools) through advanced ontological organizationof their metadata, powerful reasoning engines and an effective and robust knowledge managementsystem. Our efforts elucidate several crucial issues in the design and implementation of the muchneeded 3D knowledge based systems and beyond.
1 Introduction
3D content is widely recognized as the upcoming wave of digital media and the success of 3Denvironments and applications (e.g. Second Life, Google Earth) reveal that there is a shift inthe way people see and navigate the Internet. The massive impact of 3D content in everyday lifecan be already observed in application domains spanning from entertainment and edutainmentto scientific visualization. The decreasing cost of producing and/or collecting 3D data has anenormous impact on a number of industrial and scientific sectors.
m. pitikakis, m. vavalis, c. houstis
Users are becoming more and more actively involved in the content creation continuouslydemanding intuitive and effective tools for creating, sharing, retrieving and re-using 3D content.These rapid technological evolutions and emerging needs raise new challenges in a variety of communities that already are starting to face problems in managing and accessing the amountsof information carried by 3D content. In addition, knowledge and information reuse are vitalelements to maintain the competitive edge and ensure scientific or business success. 3D modelsare being increasingly used as the basis of new activities and a significant amount of time isspent searching for appropriate 3D information. To address the emergence of these new needs,semantic multimedia have been proposed as a new paradigm that encapsulates the convergenceof multimedia and knowledge technologies as the evolution of traditional multimedia, andwhich makes it possible to use, share and access digital content in distributed or networkedenvironments.In the past few years we have seen a large growth in repositories of 3D content from differentsources and contexts. 3D data are not only related to graphical aspects, they also hold a highknowledge value, either due to the expertise needed to design them or to the information contentcarried. This knowledge is of different kinds. Knowledge related to the geometrical and visualaspects which are captured by a set of geometric and graphical data representing the digitalobject. Knowledge related to the purpose/role of the object represented which defines its categoryor functionality. Knowledge related to the application domain and the way the 3D data arerepresented, processed, and interpreted.As pointed out by Hendler (2003) researchers may need to find and explore results at differentlevels of granularity, from another part of the field or from a completly different scientific field.Although scientists are relying on the web to share their own scientific resources (tools, papers,data resources) the current Web technology is clearly insufficient for supporting collaborative e-science and a more elaborate framework has to be provided. Furthermore, internet-based servicesare shaping our economy and a new world of internet-enabled services on top of the internet of things is fast approaching. 3D models will sooner or later become the dominant ”thing“ in thisworld. Therefore 3D models should not be seen as isolated entities but as fundamental componentsof the future internet dominating, at the same time, the web.In this context, the AIM@SHAPE (2005) project (Falcidieno et al. 2004) introduced knowledgemanagement techniques for visual content with the aim of making explicit and sharable the
Semantically Interoprable 3D Scientific Objects
knowledge embedded in multi-dimensional media, with focus on 3D content. This requiredthe development of both ontologies and knowledge bases capable of describing 3D objectsand processes, and data structures and tools used to associate semantics to 3D models. Itwas also necessary to build a common framework for managing, storing, reasoning, searchingand interacting with the semantic content related to the knowledge domain. This frameworkis the Digital Shape Workbench or DSW (AIM@SHAPE 2006
), one of the main outcomesof AIM@SHAPE, a common infrastructure which incorporates software tools, visual mediadatabases, and a digital library, all built on the basis of suitable ontologies and metadata.This paper aims at presenting this knowledge-based approach to 3D resource management,based on Semantic Web technologies for constructing semantically enriched components thatcan be integrated to form an environment for collaborative services. This provides a unifiedinfrastructure that is necessary for efficiently searching and retrieving 3D resources.The rest of this paper is organized as follows: Section 2 contains the motivation behind ourefforts and sets the associated background. Section 3 reviews related work. Section 4 shortlydescribes the conceptualization of the domain by the use of suitable ontologies. Section 5provides an overview of the Digital Shape Workbench main components. Section 6 describes, indetail, the design, implementation, integration and general technological issues associated withour knowledge infrastructure framework. Section 7 briefly comments on the evaluation of thedeveloped system as this was deployed and still operates. Our concluding remarks, the proposedfuture work, and the envisaged research road-mapping towards semantic interoperability for 3Dcontent can be found in section 8.
2 Background and Motivation
3D media are digital representations of either physically existing objects or virtual objects thatcan be processed by computer applications. Beside the impact on entertainment and 3D web, theease of producing and/or collecting data in digital form has caused a gradual shift of paradigm invarious applied and scientific fields: from physical prototypes and experience to virtual prototypesand simulation. This shift has an enormous impact on a number of industrial and scientific sectors,such as Design and Manufacturing, Gaming and Simulation, Cultural Heritage and Archaeology,Medical Applications and Bio-informatics, where 3D media are essential knowledge carriers andrepresent a huge economic factor in many content sectors.

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