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We are primarily developing 3D visualization applications to teach earth science concepts, but we also built a hands-on exhibit combining a real sandbox, and virtual topography and water created using a closed loop of a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera, powerful simulation and visualization software, and a data projector. 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.


This project was inspired by a video created by a group of Czech researchers, who demonstrate an early prototype of an AR sandbox with elevation color mapping and some limited form of fluid flow. There is an even earlier project, Project Mimicry, of which we learned only later; it also appears to only be in early testing phase.



Hardware Requirements

An AR Sandbox requires the following hardware components:

  • A computer with a good graphics card, running any version of Linux. The AR Sandbox software, in principle, also runs on Mac OS X, but we advise against it.

  • A Microsoft Kinect 3D camera. The AR Sandbox software, or rather the underlying Kinect 3D Video Package as of version 2.8, supports all three models of the first-generation Kinect (Kinect-for-Xbox 1414 and 1473 and Kinect for Windows). All three are functionally identical, so get the cheapest model you can find. Note: The second-generation Kinect (Kinect for Xbox One or Kinect for Windows v2) is not yet supported by the AR Sandbox software.

  • A digital data projector with a digital video interface, such as HDMI, DVI, or DisplayPort.

  • A sandbox with a way to mount the Kinect camera and the projector above the sandbox.

  • Sand.



























Figure 1: Typical arrangement of projector and Kinect camera above a 40"x30" (1mx0.75m) AR Sandbox. The short-throw projector is mounted at the same height as the Kinect camera, but above to the rear long edge of the sandbox to account for its above-axis projection.




The Augmented Reality Sandbox is free software, distributed under the GNU General Public License. To build and install the software, refer to the included README file. The process is usually as simple as "make," but some minor changes might have to be made according to the target operating system. The tarballs contain README files with rudimentary build and use instructions; please read them.

The tarballs available for download below will expand into SARndbox-<release> directories in the current directory. All downloadable files are tagged with their SHA1 checksums to protect against corruption and tampering.

This software is based on the Vrui toolkit and the Kinect 3D video capture project, version numbers as indicated below.

  • SARndbox-2.3 (112KB) (SHA1=61eb45466b88411e6678291d84d27058597e3fc5) Fixed some minor scaling issues and improved defaults for elevation and rain elevation ranges.



The complete instruction for Augmented Reality Sandbox visit




Augmented Reality made in Physical Research Laboratory



































We are very thankful to Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad for providing us the platform and required funds 

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