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Researchers at UC Davis W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences have created the ‘Augmented Reality Sandbox.’ The AR Sandbox is equipped to project real-time, visual and colorful topographic map data on a sandy surface. In this video, the AR Sandbox is shown adapting to the changes the demonstrator makes to the topography of the sandbox. With the creation of riverbeds, valleys and mountain ranges the topography of the sandbox takes into account these modifications and changes accordingly.
This interactive sandbox allows individuals to create their own topographic model by shaping, moving and removing sand—all of which alter either the elevation, contour lines and water flow. The up-to-the-minute information is recorded on a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera, which is then sent to the projector overlay that accurately visually represents the data. Visual information including flowing water—that adheres to the specific terrain configurations constructed—can then be observed. In a real-time and surreal experience the AR Sandbox allows one to see a body of water connect to a dry basin and fill with virtual water. Despite its playful experience, the project’s main goal is to be used for educational purposes, most likely as a museum exhibit. The desire in creating this 3D visualization was to educate people on earth science concepts and to also allow an interactive experience with earth science.