Augmented Reality Sandbox

Augmented Reality Sandbox at AWE 2018 Expo

Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox is an immersive and engaging educational AR experience. I saw it on the web but it’s the first time I got to actually try it myself at AWE 2018 expo.

The experience construction consists of a 3D camera, a projector, a sandbox container with white sanLinux a linux-based OS computer running a properitery software that runs the whole show.

Basically, the 3D camera scans the sand surface, generates a depth map which is then transformed into a color-based image. That image is then projected onto the sand using the projector.

There is also the water simulation, where the camera can detect a hand gesture above the sand and initialize a virtual water flow visual simulation, augmented onto the sand. Now everything works in real time. This means that if you change the topography of the sand, the depth camera picks it up and makes updates to the projected image in real time.

This sandbox exhibit was created by researchers at UC Davis. People can create an AR sandbox themselves (DIY) while following the instructions on this website. The software itself is open source, but of course, you’ll need to buy the different hardware components that are needed for this AR sandbox experience to work.

If you don’t want to build it yourself, one their website, they have a map showing all the places where you can try out the experience first hand.

I tried it and enjoyed it so much. It’s a great way to teach people about geography, geology, and hydrologic concept and allow them to create topography models by just shaping real sand and of course, watch the outcome of those changes regarding water flow.

This is a great example of how we can use augmented reality (AR) to enhance the learning experience. I enjoyed it so much, and just imagine how fascinating it can be for kids at schools.

The ability to physically interact with the experience and see the effect on the virtual content is one of the key highlights of this experience. This also shows us how important it is to have hand recognition in AR apps, which of course those will come alongside AR glasses. Magic Leap One already supports hand gestures and one of the most impressive demos that I’ve seen (done by devs) is ones that use hand gestures.

You have to try it yourself to feel how it affects an individual who tries it. You feel like a magician who can control the elements, at least that how I felt while I was using it.

It was a great experience and I highly recommend trying it out yourself at one of the many designated locations where it exhibits, or if you are a DIY person, you can build one yourself.