VIRTUALGEO, created in 1994 as an offshoot of the Studio Tecnico Topografico (founded in 1985) furnishes services and products supporting the study, conservation and enhancement of cultural, architectural and environmental assets.
The expansion and diversification of the fields in which VIRTUALGEO is involved, a multidisciplinary approach closely tied to the use of new technologies, years of experiences and the ability to work in synergy with different and complementary professions, enable the company to play a forefront role in many fields of work.
"Geomatics" defines the wide disciplinary field concerning acquisition, representation, management and use of geospatial information.
Virtualgeo provides for services supporting conservation and development of cultural ( architectural, archaeological) as well as environmental heritage, while keeping constant the attention towards the most innovative information technologies and solutions.
As far as Geomatics, Virtualgeo performs topographic, architectural and photogrammetrical surveys, taking advantage both of traditional instruments and of GPS as well as laser scanner.
Virtualgeo most important and recent works have been carried out on buildings of remarkable artistic-architectural value, archaeological sites, historical town planning complexes, museums and mine sites. Research Area co-operates with Virtualgeo "Geomatics" division. A team of computer scientists develops software solutions to support Technicians in carrying out such processes as survey, elaboration and restitution of data. Research Area products are AutoCAD® plug-in "Cube Project" and "Cloud Cube": the first for generating 3D models, the second for the management of data acquired from laser scanner and 3D modelling starting from "point clouds".
Besides being Autodesk® Authorized Developer for several years now, Virtualgeo has the further objective of integrating GIS technology methods and instruments for the management of land and cultural heritage; for this reason the company has been a RSC Intergraph® Partner since 2005.
The mission of Virtualgeo Communication department, which is complementary to "Geomatics" department, is the study and creation of powerful communication-oriented tools, with different purposes. As far as cultural and artistic property, Virtualgeo is active promoting the integration between advanced technologies and cultural heritage, both to encourage the divulgation of such legacy and to create databases allowing its conservation and development, by manufacturing communicative products with deep visual impact (interactive virtual animation, stereoscopic images and videos, plastic models, urban scale printings, internet) that can be transmitted as multimedia and audio-visual supports, special installations, publications.
Virtualgeo-Urban Art & Cultural Events, the Company new department, takes care both of planning as well as promoting cultural initiatives involving partnerships with public enterprises and institutions, and of manufacturing highly technological products addressed mainly to museums.
Moreover, Virtualgeo studies and manufactures customized products for communication (images and virtual reality animations, stereoscopic images, printing material, multimedia and audio-visual supports, plastic models, big-size printings, internet) addressed to companies operating in different fields (included real estate and infrastructure sectors), indispensable tools to activate marketing campaigns, attract potential customers orientating their demand and get in touch with the public increasing their degree of confidence by supplying information concerning the projects/works being carried out, etc.
In close relationship with Virtualgeo "Geomatics" department, operates the Company Research Area, which has been Autodesk® Authorized Developer and RSC Intergraph® Partner for several years. The Research area, which is made up of a team of computer scientists, works systematically at the development of software aimed at solving the various problems the company technicians must cope with on performing a survey and managing the data acquired.
In particular, AutoCAD® plug-in "Cube Project", in the market for some time now, is based on the know-how in the fields of geomatics and infrastructural design, acquired during two decades of experience to generate the 3D models to be employed in analytical and project applications concerning land transformation.
The most important project currently performed by the Research Area involves a partnership with a Russian research centre, directed by a company from Bologna. This project is meant to develop a software in AutoCAD® environment, for the management of "point clouds", surveyed by laser scanner instruments, for architectural and land 3D modelling starting from such clouds. The first "Cloud cube" module, this is the name chosen for the new software, has been available in the market since the second half of May 2006.
In architecture, restoration, archaeology and, broadly speaking, in the field of artistic property and cultural heritage, the use of virtual models is common and widespread nowadays, since such models have a strong communication potential, useful to promote processes of morphologic knowledge, project analysis, documentation.
The images and the virtual videos obtained from 3D digital models, acquired from project printouts, are deep-impact communication tools, since they illustrate, in a way "outsiders" can easily understand, the features of a project recently carried out or the possible results of a restoration plan and its alternative solutions, as well as the impact of an environmental planning intervention.
Moreover, virtual reality is a powerful means of divulgation, knowledge and conservation of a country cultural legacy, because, besides offering an intuitive access to research outcomes (where information is not mediated by linguistic codes but conveyed mostly by images and therefore easily understood even by non-specialized users), it allows, within a careful observation of the urban and territorial transformations occurred with the passing of time, to test reconstructive hypothesis and, supporting the institutional decision procedures from an operative point of view, to study projects of intervention and planned maintenance.
The plastic models produced in Virtualgeo with different materials starting from a 3D digital model (already used for planning procedures and for the elaboration of virtual reality products, with a remarkable cost reduction), by rapid prototyping printer and numerical control pantographs, reproduce, on the desired scale, the 3D geometry of a land portion, an architectural complex, a building or part of it, allowing a complete vision at different degrees of precision, with the opportunity to compare directly the current state and the project state of a restoration plan or of an environmental plan (hydraulic, mining, agrarian organization projects). The usefulness, absolutely particular and typical, of physical models is to overcome the difference that can be perceived, even in the most accurate virtual reality applications, between the abstractness of computer graphics and the need for a visual and tactile confrontation with material reality. There is evidence of architectural models being produced in ancient times too. Excavations have brought to light votive models of Roman houses and temples, and the same kind of objects have been found in Egypt and Etruria. In ancient Greece they produced architectural plastic models made of wax or wood, called paradéigmata, to be used in the construction of such works. Recent studies have suggested that in Renaissance Italy the use of models (well documented by historical sources since the second half of the Fourteenth Century) was a common practice, followed both by architects and by customers. If for Brunelleschi models (he produced "models and expedients" himself for the cupola of S.Maria del Fiore) had the purpose of supplying the building yard with basic information concerning the structure and its components, for Alberti they were tools for experimentation and project analysis, which, along with the drawings, had to be tested by experts and submitted to customers.
For some time Virtualgeo has been active promoting the use of advanced technology for acquisition, conservation and divulgation of artistic and cultural heritage, with the firm belief that the potential offered by technology must be employed at the best, both for the creation of quantitative and qualitative databases concerning cultural and artistic property and for the development of such resource. Emblematic results of this way of thinking have been the "Urban books", monumental format printings, fixed on the scaffoldings put up on important building fronts in several Italian cities with the purpose, on one hand, to inform about the opportunity of integration between innovative technologies and cultural heritage, on the other hand to promote local resources.
Urban Art & Cultural Events, Virtualgeo newborn division, takes care both of planning as well as promoting initiatives involving partnerships with public enterprises and institutions, and of manufacturing technologically advanced products addressed mainly to museums. Among the tangible results in this sense are worth mentioning: the multimedia interactive cd-rom about Oratory of SS. Lorenzo and Marco from the Confraternity of "Battuti" in Serravalle/Vittorio Veneto (Tv); virtual stereoscopic animation and interactive multimedia cd-rom commissioned by Como City Museums to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the death of the archaeologist Alfonso Garovaglio; the stereoscopic video dedicated to the National Archaeological Museum of Altino (Ve) and presented at "Imagine Ancient Rome", world expo of virtual archaeology held in 2005 at Trajan Markets; the first stereoscopic exhibition about Glass Museum of Murano (Ve) "Murano 2025" which finished in January 2006.