Today I had very interesting meeting with chief engineer from GrabCAD. As they say on their website GrabCAD is a community founded by mechanical engineers. It is also a place for engineers to share their talent, expand knowledge, find a dream project and work with tools and features that make life better.
We were discussing how this engineering tool, which enables you to share and collaboratively work with your 3D models, could be used in cultural heritage and archaeology. I had some archaeological example data with me. Gareth had provided me the laserscan data of Portus statue head and I had the photogrammetric data from the burial of the rich lady from 12th century. Both 3D data-sets worked nicely in the GrabCAD environment.
I see that the main applications in archaeology would be in decision making process and collaborative modelling. Professors and researchers can view and annotate the 3D model on the website without any special software or plugin (this is almost true, your browser needs to support WebGL standard). GrabCAD also makes it easier to share your 3D or CAD work.
There are some limitations as they are still in their beta phase. You can not have textures or layers, just geometry (and colours in some cases). But the development is in full speed and all our comments and request are very valuable input to them.
Check it out: grabcad.com
Follow the link below to see embedded GrabCAD model in action. You will see the low resolution model based on photogrammetric data of the Kukruse burial.