Our main project


since 2017

Data and Service Center for the Humanities DaSCH

Research data in the humanities needs to be sustainable, and access to digital resources must be possible over a long period. Only if these prerequisites are fulfilled can research data be used as a source for new projects. Reliability is another fundamental requirement so that digital sources can be cited, reused, and quoted. The Data and Service Center for the Humanities, located in Switzerland, aims to help solve this problem. It offers a centralized infrastructure based on flexible and extensible software, modern technologies, and open standards. This makes it straightforward to migrate existing humanities research project databases with limited life spans to a standards-based form for long-term preservation and reuse. We will demonstrate the basic concepts behind this proposed solution and our initial results.

Pilot project (2013-2015): Final Report

Current research projects


since 2016

Nationale Infrastruktur für Editionen - Infrastructure nationale pour les éditions

Swissuniversities' program "Scientific information: access, processing and safeguarding" is funding a project submitted by the FEE Forum für Edition und Erschliessung for the creation of a "National Infrastructure for Editions" (NIE - INE). The University of Basel and its partners in Berne, Geneva and Zurich, together with the University Library of Basel and the Central Library of Zurich, receive 2.36 million Swiss francs of more than 5.26 million Swiss francs.

Within the scope of the proposed project, a national infrastructure (work and publication platform) is to be created for editions (NIE - INE), which is open to all scientific edition projects in Switzerland. The platform is designed to meet the specific needs of large and complex edition projects and, in particular, to ensure the electronic publication and long-term availability of research data and results in a central area of ​​national humanities research. The NIE - INE will fill the existing gap between the research and the existing and planned offers of the memory institutions. The basis for the new development are recognized and tested instruments of the Digital Humanities.

The development of the NIE - INE is shared by key stakeholders in all affected areas. The overall project is coordinated by the Forum for Edition and Development (FEE) of the University of Basel, which bundles the scientific disciplines and competencies of the entire disciplines and guarantees the overall management. The central partner is the Data- and Service Center for the Humanities (DaSCH). This SAGW company, which is currently operating in pilot operation, will start regular operations in 2017 and will keep the edition platform created in the NIE-INE available in the long term. As a technology provider, the Digital Humanities Lab (DHLab) of the University of Basel ensures the coordination of the technical issues and coordinates the development of NIE - INE with the development of the basic technology used.



Bernoulli-Euler Online

The project Bernoulli-Euler Online (BEOL) integrates the two edition projects Basler Edition der Bernoulli-Briefwechsel (BEBB) and Leonhardi Euleri Opera Omnia (LEOO) into one digital platform available on the web. In addition, Jacob Bernoulli's scientific notebook Meditationes — a document of outstanding significance for the history of mathematics at its turning point around 1700 — will be published, offering a multilayer access to the user (facsimile, transcription, critical text, translations, indices, and commentaries). BEOL is implemented within Knora/SALSAH, a generic virtual research environment (VRE) for the humanities. Besides being an edition, BEOL will be a research platform for the study of early modern mathematics and science. It will also be interoperable with other digital platforms, which can interact with it via Knora's RDF-based data model and RESTful API. The goal of BEOL is thus twofold: It focuses on the mathematics influenced by the Bernoulli dynasty and Leonhard Euler and undertakes a methodological effort to present these materials to the public and researchers in a highly functional way.

Archives on the move


Archives on the move

The project Archives on the move aims at developing an attractive environment to use and explore the digitized photo archives of Kunsthalle Basel. In cooperation, an expandable online platform is being realized. Visual-based search options and content-related modules curated around selected topics make the content in the database available in a sophisticated way. It provides useful information on art historical contexts for scientists and the general public. The project demonstrates new front end presentations for image collections enriched with cultural contents. Its technological implementation counts on the advantages of the virtual research environment SALSAH/KNORA.


Digital Materiality


Digital Materiality

The project 'Digital Materiality' examines new methods for describing the reflection of light on surfaces. For this purpose, we improve advanced imaging techniques like PTM (Polynomial Texture Mapping) and RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging). These methods are adapted to works of art and their complex materiality in order to develop innovative approaches in art history research. Within the project we focus on early prints and mediaeval mosaics that are documented with RTI. The resulting digital models enable us to examine new ways of analyzing these objects in a virtual research environment (VRE).

Knora / SALSAH 2


Knowledge Organization, Representation, and Annotation

Knora is an open, modular, extensible and extensible platform based on industry standards (RDF as data representation, SPARQL 1.1 and a RESTful web service API for access). SALSAH is now a generic user interface for Knora, but Knora's server components make it straightforward to create project-specific user interfaces with and application logic.

Main website for the Knora project KNORA.org


Capture and digitze

We are experienced in creating digital sources.


Archäologische Bodenforschung, Basel

Consulting, Scanning
Basler Afrika Bibliographien: Namibia Resource Centre & Southern Africa Library, Basel

Scanning of assets
Bibliothéque cantonale et universitaire, Fribourg

Bundesamt für Zivilschutz, Sektion Kulturgüterschutz, Bern

Scanning of assets
Dokumentationsbibliothek, St. Moritz

Scanning of assets
Eid. Archiv für Denkmalpflege, St. Moritz

Consulting, Scanning of assets
Freilichtmuseum Ballenberg, Brienz

Digitizing of assets
Gemeindearchiv, Riehen

Scanning of assets
Hochschule für Kunst und Gestaltung, Grafische Sammlung, Zürich

Color Reconstruction
Indiana University, Digital Library, Bloomington

Kanton Appenzell A. Rh., Herisau

Color Reconstruction
Kantonsmuseum Baselland, Liestal

Consulting Radiology
Kantonsspital Basel, Basel

Kunsthalle Basel, Basel

Kunsthistorisches Institut, Max-Planck-Institut, Florenz

Kunstmuseum, Basel

Scanning of assets
Museum der Kulturen, Basel

Scanning of assets
Museum für Glasmalerei, Romont

Scanning, Imaging
Museum für Kommunikation, Bern

Scanning of assets
Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel

Scanning of assets
Pestalozzi-Gesellschaft Oberwi, Oberwil

Scanning of assets, migration
Rechtshistorische Bildstelle Uni ZH, Zürich

Römerstadt Augusta Raurica, Augst

Scanning of assets
Museum der Kulturen, Basel

Scanning of assets
Schweizer Radio DRS, Basel

Scanning of assets
Schweizerische Landesbibliothek, Bern

Consulting, Training, Scanning Glasnegative
Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv, Bern

Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde, Basel

Consulting, Scanning of assets
Schweizerisches Landesmuseum und Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, Zürich

Stiftsbibliothek, St. Gallen

Scanning of assets
Stiftung Luftbild Schweiz, Regensdorf

Color Reconstruction, Consulting
Tate Gallery, London

Imaging, Flora Helvetica
Verlag Paul Haupt, Bern

Color Reconstruction
Yale University Press, London

Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern

Previous Projects




CAPcam is an automatic view camera for interactive image composition. The camera makes possible the computerized adjustment of the lens- and film plane. This relative movement of the optics for photographic effects like shifting and tilting is based on an arbitrary set of focus points. It also enables the precise automatic adjustment of stereo recordings or tiled images that exploit the large image circle of the lenses. In this project, these opportunities are to be exploited and controlled by an intuitive user interface with direct influence in 3D space.



System for Annotation and Linkage of Sources in Arts and History

SALSAH is a web-based virtual research environment that helps researchers in the humanities deal with digital sources and linkage. It allows the annotation and linkage of arbitrary digital sources such as digital texts, still and moving images, and sound. The implementation is based on an RDF data model designed to meet the needs of humanities research. SALSAH is intended to facilitate and encourage collaborative working processes.

First version of SALSAH

Dust BW

A solution for the elimination of dust and scratches on transparent photographic material is investigated. We are designing a scanning system that will detect defects, taking advantage of depolarization of light scattered by irregularities in the film surface. This phenomenon is studied analytically to define the optimal optical setup.


Lenticular colour film is an early colour motion picture technology based on coding colour information as spatial intensity patterns and recording these in a panchromatic emulsion. Conventional restoration of such film relies on playback requiring special optical equipment, in particular a colour filter identical to the one used for recording. We have developed a digital colour reconstruction procedure employing a modern high-resolution film scanner and image-processing software. This approach is very flexible, with respect to both the particular type of lenticular colour film and the degree of restoration.


The Digital Humanities Lab of the University of Basel has developed a workflow called ‘Monolith’ for migrationless preservation of digital data on optical media. It combines the advantages of photographic material and standard digital imaging technology to create a long-term, migrationless archiving system. This is achieved by the hybrid characteristics of the optical carrier. Any arbitrary binary bit stream is stored along with human-readable technical, structural, and contextual metadata. Original files of any appropriate format are stored on film as visual 2D barcodes. This process can be regarded as a materialization of binary data, which becomes visual and physical. Monolith has no limitation regarding the format of the file to be archived, and it requires no migration and no energy to transport information into the future.


Even decades after the advent of computer technology, preserving information in digital archives remains a challenging task. Technological progress on all levels calls for migration as an essential component of any digital archive. Migration, however, is not only expensive, but also makes it difficult to ensure the authenticity of digital documents. The University of Basel’s Imaging and Media Lab has developed PEVIAR (Permanent Visual Archive), an archiving solution addressing one of the fundamental challenges of digital archiving, migration, and introducing the notion of digital originals. Essentially, digital documents are inseparably bound to a migration-free medium, thereby overcoming the transient nature of today’s state-of-the-art storage systems.
This project was supported by the Commission for Technology and Innovation of the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology and by industrial partners.


To display the contents of a motion picture archive in the future, it will be necessary to scan the films in equivalent digital quality, following the standards of preservation recommendations. Conversion to digital formats is inevitable because of advantages like the accessibility, ease of distribution, and ease of reproduction of digital objects. Digitization is now limited by economic constraints rather than by technical possibilities.
AFRESA is an integrated system consisting of a high quality scanner and cascaded software tools for automatic image acquisition, reconstruction, export and structured storage. The reconstruction includes procedures such as dust and scratch removal, model-based color correction, image stabilization, and the recognition and extraction of text (OCR), i.e. title, subtitle and end titles for the retrieval of metadata, which is stored in an integrated database. Finally, a sophisticated method for reconstructing optical sound is included. An integrated viewing tool makes it easy to classify digital assets. The system is designed as a mobile rental system to be used within archives. By integrating all necessary process components, costs can be kept down, making possible the efficient digitization and processing of a large amount of archived film, even for archives with small budgets.
This project was supported by the Commission for Technology and Innovation of the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology and by industrial partners.


Distarnet was an SNF-funded research project, aimed at developing a system for the long-term preservation of digital data in a distributed network, with high redundancy and automatic migration.
The rapidly growing production of digital data, together with their increasing importance and demands for their longevity, urgently require systems that provide reliable long-term preservation of digital objects. These systems have to ensure availability, integrity, authenticity, and interpretability over the course of the preservation period, which may last for several years, e.g. in business or scientific applications, the lifetime of a human in medical applications, or for potentially unlimited time spans in cultural heritage digital libraries. This means that all kinds of technical problems (network, software, or hardware failures) need to be reliably handled, and that the evolution of data formats is supported.
At the same time, systems need to scale with the volume of data to be archived. Thus, long-term digital preservation systems have to be inherently distributed to allow content to be replicated. Institutions with long-term archiving needs for the preservation of digital data have to collaborate in order to build a highly reliable and available, geographically distributed, Internet-based digital archiving system. By employing distributed systems technologies, whether for the creation of a small cooperating network of few institutions with limited resources or a large network with many nodes, together providing potentially vast amounts of globally distributed resources, the challenges lie in the autonomic, efficient, and fault-tolerant use of these resources without a centralized global coordinator.
We developed novel concepts for a distributed long-term preservation system for digital data, with a focus on long-term preservation as required by archives, museums, research communities, or the corporate sector. These concepts are the result of combining distributed, autonomic, and process-oriented computing, with requirements from the digital preservation community regarding special system, user, and metadata functionality. Originating from this fusion, our novel concepts are the main ingredients of the described system model, consisting of a data model, and different processes. At the data level, support is provided for complex data objects, management of collections, annotations, and arbitrary links between digital objects. At process level, our proposed archiving system model supports automated processes that provide dynamic replication, consistency checks, and automated recovery of the archived digital objects, using autonomic behavior governed by preservation policies without any centralized coordinator, in a fully distributed network. This allows for an efficient and fault-tolerant use of the resources provided in the network.
The prototype implementation of the DISTARNET (DISTributed ARchival NETwork) System, a distributed long-term digital preservation solution, implements the described novel concepts.


Color management: SINAR

Digital imaging devices have become standard for professional and amateur photographic applications. However, the spectral behaviour of state-of-the-art sensors still does not match that of the human visual system, resulting in metamerism. As long as colourimetric sensors are not available, the imaging industry has to rely on sophisticated colour management software. For colourimetric reproductions of artwork, various methods involving multi-spectral captures have been investigated. Even though they can substantially improve colour fidelity, they are not suited for applications such as fashion, landscape photography, or photography of people. In collaboration with Sinar AG, the University of Basel is working on an integrated, automated method to prove the quality of sensors and calculate a colour transform for each digital back. A virtual camera model based on real measurements makes it possible to calibrate the camera system within a manufacturing workflow. The colour transform will further improve the out-of-the-box colour reproduction of real-world photographic applications. The appropriate colour transforms are based on a large set of synthetically generated colours. The resulting colour transform can be found either by numerical optimization or by using a look-up-table (LUT) approach.
This project was supported by the Commission for Technology and Innovation of the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology and by industrial partners.