When you think of the ways that people normally interface with computers there are a few main ones that come to mind: the mouse and keyboard, and more recently the touchscreen. These common forms of input bridge the divide between the user and the computer. The Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox project, like many other SensiLab projects, aims to remove this interaction divide by letting users interact with the sandbox, and therefore the computer, in a more natural way.
The idea of an AR Sandbox was made popular back in 2014 when academics at UC Davis created a sophisticated watershed simulation. Using the combination of a Microsoft Kinect, a projector and a table full of sand, contour lines could be projected onto the sand whilst simulated water could flow freely across the table. This project, which went viral on YouTube, was the inspiration for what my project would become.
I started work on an AR Sandbox back in 2016 when I was fortunate enough to be accepted to work at SensiLab on a Winter Scholarship Project. During this time, I embraced learning many new concepts, such as Shaders and designing software for an ever-changing sandy environment. It was challenging, but I had amazing fun designing a simplified water simulation, a bushfire simulation and I even created a mode where virtual spiders could freely roam the sandbox surface. The AR Sandbox was featured later that year at Monash’s Future Finders exhibition where it received encouraging feedback.