Augmented Reality Sandbox Using A Kinect

Want to make all your 5 year old son’s friends jealous? What if he told them he could make REAL volcanoes in his sandbox? Will this be the future of sandboxes, digitally enhanced with augmented reality?

It’s not actually that hard to set up! The system consists of a good computer running Linux, a Kinect, a projector, a sandbox, and sand. And that’s it! The University of California (UC Davis) has setup a few of these systems now to teach children about geography, which is a really cool demonstration of both 3D scanning and projection mapping. As you can see in the animated gif above, the Kinect can track the topography of the sand, and then project its “reality” onto it. In this case, a mini volcano.

Full instructions are available from UC Davis, which is a much better guide than we remember the last time we looked in on this project. Between this and augmented reality pinball, is the future of consumer electronics to cheap out and use AR? Why build something when you can project it?

[Thanks for the tip Rolinger!]

11 thoughts on “Augmented Reality Sandbox Using A Kinect

  1. So once we combine this with personal VR goggles instead of projectors and network and sync it all together, kids (mostly?) will sit around playing in the “sand” but be fully immersed in all sorts of shared environments? To the outside observer, they would just be moving sand about. This could be really fun for museums, etc.

  2. Very nice!
    One small improvement I can see: instead of drawing a top-down view of the smoke bellowing out – which ends up being projected on the ground; breaking the illusion a bit – just draw the shadows cast by said clouds (along with those of some lazily-drifting water-vapor clouds, if you want to get fancy).

  3. Every time I see something like this I’m reminded how much my childhood sucked! In my day the only augmentation to the reality of the sand box was what the cat left in it!

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.