Press Release

High school students develop the first fully automatic RTI-DOME for the OeAI

The citizen science project of the OeAI and the HTL St. Pölten has reached the finals of the AXAWARD 2018.

(Vienna, April 26, 2018) -In a citizen science project the students of the HTL St. Pölten with the Austrian Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences developed the first fully automatic RTI-lighting dome – the RTI dome. The dome will aid archaeologist to more efficiently implement the RTI-method for photographing objects. Even during an excavation, it will now be possible to take multiple shots particularly quickly with variable lighting positions of an archaeological artifact. The successful project is also among the Top 10 in the final of the AXAWARD 2018 on April 27 in Vienna.

A large number of objects is excavated during an archaeological excavation. The finds, such as pottery or coins, are photographed in order to document them and prepare them for further scientific analysis. At the Austrian Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAI) a computer-based photographic method – the RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) – is employed for this task. With a fixed camera position multiple photographs are taken with variable lighting positions thus enabling the perfect capture of artifacts. An automated lighting dome that controlled both the lamps and the camera synchronously did not exist worldwide. Instead, lamps had to be arduously positioned by hand and each photograph was individually taken.

In a citizen science project of the OeAI students of the HTL St. Pölten developed a dome, the RTI-dome. “The challenge was to develop an automated lighting dome with camera synchronization that can be used in a stationary format at the OeAI in Vienna as well as during field work,” says OeAI photographer Niki Gail. This means that it not only has to be as small as possible and easily transportable but also simple to use. Furthermore, the dome also must withstand high temperatures because it will be used in several Mediterranean countries. During its first trial run everything worked from the start. The RTI-dome will be used for the first time on the OeAI excavations in Ephesos.

The team of students supervised by the teachers Gerhard Hinterhofer, Hermann Binder, Werner Koppatz, and Bernhard Gutmann submitted their project to the AXAWARD 2018, a competition for young technical talents, and the project has reached the Top 10 finals. The final event will take place on April 27 in the SKY-Lounge of the University of Vienna at the Oskar Morgenstern Platz 1 in 1090 Vienna. Start 12.00. 


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Astrid Pircher
Public Relations
T (+43 1) 4277-27144
E astrid.pircher(at)

How does the RTI-Dome work?

Was means RTI?

Info: Cultural Heritage Imaging