Augmented Reality Sandbox

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    UC Davis’ W. M. Keck Center for Active Visualization inside the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES), at the side of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, Lawrence Hall of Science, and ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, is involved with an NSF-funded project on informal science education for freshwater lake and watershed science.

    Within this project, We’re primarily developing 3D visualization applications to instruct earth science concepts, however we also built a hands-on exhibit combining an actual sandbox, and virtual topography and water created employing a closed loop of the Microsoft Kinect 3D camera live streaming bein sport, powerful simulation and visualization software, and also a data projector. The resulting augmented reality (AR) sandbox enables users to make topography models by shaping real sand, that is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water. The machine teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts including learn how to read a topography map, the meaning of contour lines, watersheds, catchment areas, levees, etc.

    This project was inspired using a video created by a bunch of Czech researchers, who demonstrate an early prototype in an AR sandbox with elevation color mapping and a few limited sort of fluid flow. It comes with an even earlier project, Project Mimicry, of which we learned only later ; it appears to only have early testing phase.

    Figure 1 : The Augmented Reality Sandbox in its natural habitat. Left : Sandbox unit when turned off. The Kinect 3D camera and also the digital projector are suspended above the sandbox proper direct from pole linked with the back. Right : Sandbox table when turned on, showing a mountain having a crater lake, surrounded by several lower lakes.
    Project Goals

    The aim of the project ended up being attain a real-time integrated augmented reality system to physically create topography models that then scanned into your computer in real time, and used as background for a number of graphics effects and simulations. The last product is supposed to become self-contained in the point where it could be used like a hands-on exhibit in science museums with little supervision.

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