Universal web interface for Interactive Pixel Based file formats

Project BRAIN-be
In 2017 the RMAH and its partners in the PIXEL+ project received the necessary funding for the implementation of the goals set out. The Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) granted PIXEL+ this support via their BRAIN-be programme (Pioneer Projects).


Today, several Belgian Federal Scientific Institutes (RMAH, IRPA-KIK, KBR, RBINS), Universities (KU Leuven, UGent, UCLouvain) and heritage organizations (MRM, Plantin-Moretus, …) are using the since 2003 developed Portable Light Dome system (PLD) for the digital registration and study of their own collections and collections spread around the world. Multiple Belspo and FWO funded research programmes have invested in these efforts (IAP 7/14, BR/121/PI/EES, AG/LL/168, AKUL/09/023, AKUL/11/03, ZKD0537, ZKD0538). This has led to a better understanding of the digitized objects, resulting in numerous scientific papers, but as well to the creation of many TB’s of data of these newly established multi-light interactive computer files (.cun, .zun). Only in Belgium, the number of digitized Cultural and Natural Heritage objects with this system already adds up to +6.000.

At the same time, on the international scène, a second type of multi-light imaging system has been developed and widely used: Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI, piloted by Cultural Heritage Imaging, CHI, San Francisco). Heritage Collection holders all over the world have been working with this technology; again creating many TB’s of interactive data (.rti, .ptm).

Reviews on both these leading interactive pixel based file formats highlight their opportunities for digital heritage studies and preservation, but have as well identified the challenges such new virtual mediums generate when it comes to their valorisation towards the (scientific) community and long term digital preservation issues. The Belgian based PLD system uses a set of custom made acquisition, processing and viewer software interfaces that communicate only with the datasets intrinsic to their proper system. This is equally valid for the available RTI data. In the last couple of years both to the PLD and RTI systems new applications including multispectral imaging techniques were added.

PIXEL+ aims:

1. to merge both systems in making them consultable in one joint platform, and

2. to create a set of open source/access viewers which allows the consultation via both a general web based application as well as an all functions including research desktop application.



  • Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH) – coordinator
  • KU Leuven
  • Royal Library (KBR)

Further communication channels: