Old or young, chances are you spent part of your childhood on the playground or in a backyard moving around, shoveling, and accidentally ingesting piles of sand with other youths. But there's a good chance all that might change when the next generation of tykes heads to recess. At University of California, Davis, researcher Oliver Kreylos and his team built this augmented reality sandbox using a data projector, a Microsoft 3D Kinect camera, and some simulation software. Here's its description:
The resulting augmented reality (AR) sandbox allows users to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water. The system teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts such as how to read a topography map, the meaning of contour lines, watersheds, catchment areas, levees, etc.
Here's Kreylos making it rain... virtually:
Right now, the sandbox's goal is to act as a "hands-on exhibit in science museums with little supervision" but it's easy to imagine this in kind of technology in the classrooms of the future. Forget Legos, blocks, and maps. The next generation of kids will build and destroy their own mini-ecosystems by hand while barely getting dirty.
For more augmented reality projects, check out Chris Mims' fascinating piece.
Check out the full demo below:
Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.
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