Constructing an Augmented Reality Sandbox

Authors: William Wetherholt*, Frostburg State University
Topics: Geography Education, Cartography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Augmented reality, geographic education, virtual mapping
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The augmented reality (AR) sandbox was developed by the UC Davis W. M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES) through an NSF-funded project on informal science education. The AR sandbox enables users to create topographic models by shaping sand that is sensed from above, processed by a computer below, and a digital projector that casts hypsometrically tinted contours back onto the surface of the sand in real time. The original researchers made available online all the software along with hardware details and installation instructions for anyone interested in creating an AR sandbox of their own. In Fall 2017, funds were secured from physical geography lab fees at Frostburg State University to purchase appropriate hardware to build an AR sandbox for the Department of Geography, and the sandbox’s construction was complete by the end of Spring 2018. Calibration of the AR sandbox was completed in Summer 2018 and deployed in various classes in the department during the Fall 2018 semester. The geography department’s local chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon brought the AR sandbox to the 2018 Major’s Fair on campus and was awarded Most Interactive Display. Without yet realizing its full potential, the AR sandbox has already excited Frostburg students, faculty, and administration. The sandbox is an innovative tool in geographic education for the public as well as the classroom that anyone can construct with modest funding and a good deal of patience.

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