AR Sandbox

Recently everyone in the 8th grade had to complete an application for a major project that they were to create in the Makerspace, or complete an application to join a project that is already in motion. All types of project requests were submitted: a give a bunny project, a makeup tutorial project, someone wanted to create a standing vanity, and another wanted to create a sliding front closet, all of the ideas were unique in their own ways.

When we were first told that we had to create a project in the Makerspace, I wanted to create a video game; coding. Then I wanted to create an all natural cosmetic with my friends. We changed our minds and decided to work on a series of makeup tutorials that would teach girls how to recreate famous looks, from people like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Kesha, and more. As we were working out the kinks in that project, our teacher Ms. Sauter, sent out an email for the girls that had not yet decided on what project they wanted to work on/enter in. There were three options on it:

  1. To work on an augmented reality project, that would be an extension of a topographic map project that we did earlier in the year.
  2. To create a fully functioning skateboard that eventually all the 8th graders would do.
  3. And lastly to enter google’s annual science fair.

One of the projects caught my eye: the augmented reality topographic map, and the more I read about it the cooler it sounded, so I decided to do that instead of the makeup tutorial with my friends.

Of course now that I had decided to do something I had to fill out my application, which meant… numbers and more research. Yay. But I’m glad that I decided to do the extra research because otherwise I would be bad off when I started to actually build the sandbox. I’ll get into technicalities later.

Let me tell you what an AR Sandbox is. It is an interactive topographic map, that basically means that when you change the way the sand lays inside the sandbox, the information is picked up by the 3D sensor above the sandbox, which is transferred via cable to a computer that has been set up with the correct programs to adjust to the shifting sand. From there the new image is sent to a projector, which projects the updated topographic map onto the sand within seconds. So it is really pretty cool, no matter how it sounds.

A diagram of how an AR Sandbox is set up.

What an AR Sandbox looks like when it is in full working order.

You would think that something like would take a lot of time, and a lot of effort, and it probably will. It also takes a lot of money, and here we find one of the things that I didn’t know about until after I researched all about the AR Sandbox. You are supposed to have a very good graphics card one that can handle the strain that processing the images takes, so if you have a low performance graphics card, your sandbox, well… It won’t work like you want it to. And high performance graphics cards are expensive, so this project really racks up in cost.

So even though this project is very hands on, and is kind of expensive, it still seems like a lot of fun. I am looking forward to completing it, and letting the girls at school play with it for as long as it lasts.

~Almina Orbach ヽ(*’(OO)’)ノ

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