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The Augmented Reality Sandbox

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 19, 2019

Inspired by a Czech project, a team at UC Davis is building an Augmented Reality Sandbox that lets you create & study different landscapes by moving real sand around in a real sandbox. Check this out — the topographic lines and colors change in realtime as you move the sand around:

As part of this project, we are primarily developing 3D visualization applications to teach earth science concepts, but we also built a hands-on exhibit combining a real sandbox, and virtual topography and water created using a closed loop of a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera, powerful simulation and visualization software, and a data projector. The resulting augmented reality (AR) sandbox allows users to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water. The system teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts such as how to read a topography map, the meaning of contour lines, watersheds, catchment areas, levees, etc.

That video is from several years ago…here’s a more recent video showing a hybrid AR/VR sandbox setup:

The software is available to download so if you want to build your own, go for it. (via a map a day)