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ASEE-SE Annual Conference 2022

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Expansion of The Augmented Reality Sandbox To Include Additional Water Sources For Guided Educational Experiences

This work focuses on the addition of new water sources to expand the scenarios that can be explored using the Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox. AR Sandboxes have been used in multiple education and outreach applications since their creation by UC Davis in 2015. These sandboxes make use of a sandbox, a projector, a depth sensor to sense the topography in the sand and calculate and project a responsive topographic height map onto the sand. AR Sandboxes can be found in schools and museums across the world being used to teach students and patrons about topography, runoff, and other geological topics. The sandboxes provide a mixed reality experience as the users manipulate standard play sand but view simulation rain and water runoff.

In addition to the standard rain feature, which adds simulated water to an area of the table based on a recognized hand gesture, a variable source at the edge of the table was developed. The user can configure the source to be at a single point along the edge of the sand area. The table users can then control the amount of water flow by raising or lowering the sand height at that location. This allows the creation of streams or rivers continuously flowing through the domain and demonstrates rain and runoff effects on existing water bodies. The source can also be configured to provide waves along one side of the sand domain. These can be cyclical, lower amplitude waves, or a single high amplitude wave. These features enable guided exploration of tidal waves and hydrology in coastal environments.

Leveraging recent research on the positive effect of augmented reality technology on learning outcomes and a student’s ability to retain learning objectives. This work shows how an augmented reality sandbox with additional water sources can be used in education settings.

Elizabeth Smith
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
United States

Tyler Ainsworth
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
United States


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