The Augmented Reality Sandbox

The Augmented Reality Sandbox

A few months ago in our Chicago gamedev Fantasy Football League, someone posted a video of kids digging around in sand. Except, [that’s not all that was happening]( The sand changed as they dug, projecting mountains, flowing rivers, grass, and even volcanoes complete with gushing lava on top of the surface.

I had to make one. Think of the possibilities!

A couple days later, I had a sketch of the sandbox. It needed to be built at a 4:3 aspect ratio, and being that projectors and hardware aren’t quite up to tolerating a 4 yard by 3 yard box, I decided to go for a simple 4′ x 3′ sandbox, elevated about 30″ off the ground. Here’s the original sandbox design:

![Sandbox Design](

After that, I began building the box that would drive the system. We had an older (but really well equipped) PC laying around that I reformatted and put Linux (Ubuntu) on. Then I [loaded]( [the]( [software]( required to get the project to run, and ran some tests.

Impatient to get this thing off the road, I skipped further calibration steps in order to verify it worked. Okay, I just wanted to play with it. But more importantly, the kids at SpaceLab that day wanted to play with it. Here’s the result:

That’s it for now. My next plans are to figure out how to reinterpret the sandbox data back onto the computer, then use that to mirror what’s happening on the sand in Minecraft. Basically, create a physical way to manipulate the game.

Sound fun? Follow the progress of this project, and other projects of mine, by [subscribing to my]( blog.

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