Augmented Reality Meets Reality Modeling

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    Frank Conforti

    Today, my AR Sandbox project partner and I were setting up our sandbox for a “Bring your daughters and sons to work” event tomorrow. After we were done setting up I decided to try out our company’s reality modeling/capture program (ContextCapture) on the sand “sculpture” we created while testing the calibration. I took 41 pictures of the sand and let the software do its thing. I’m genuinely surprised how good it came out. Using the browser-based viewer I’m able to “view” the sculpture as if I’m flying or hiking around the terrain.

    Click this link if you want to see the model yourself (runs in most browsers). If you do try it out, click the Walk mode and use the shift key (up/down elevation) and control key (rotate camera) to navigate around the terrain. It is more like flying than walking.

    This is NOT a plug for the software at all. I just found it so cool I had to share (there are plenty other 3D capture programs out there.) I also scanned the sculpture without the projector on and it just wasn’t nearly as cool as this.

    The kids are going to love seeing this as part of our demonstration tomorrow!


    Looks awesome! Is this “kinetic” sand? You have deep gorges and tall hills. Textures are well attached to the model. So I guess your capture device doesn’t rely on IR grids?

    Frank Conforti

    It is just normal play sand, just heavily wetted. After sculpting the sand, I spray water on it which generates the clumping effect. Adds texture to the sand’s appearance. We go through a lot of water in a day when the sandbox is on display.

    The capture software just uses pictures taken with normal cameras. I took the pictures with my iPhone as it was the only camera I had when I decided to do this little experiment. I was curious how it would come out given the subject is essentially self-illuminated. I wanted to see what effect the projector lighting would have on the model. When you “fly” over the terrain, no shadow is cast onto the sand! You can look straight down at the model in ways you can’t in real life.

    As I said, the outcome from my experiment was a pleasant surprise. I’m thinking of doing some screen recording of flythroughs and turn it into a YouTube video.


    Cool stuff with the sand texture for sure. Oliver suggested using Sandtastik white sand then using .25 L of water per 98 Kgs (i think) of sane to allow the Sandtastik sand to hold it shape better.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by mkaszuba.
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