Augmented Reality Sandboxes

Scientists have put Microsoft / Xbox Kinect sensors to great use over the years. One of these uses is in simulation of physical effects in terms of geography and mapping, ranging from topography to water flow. By now, many of these augmented reality interactive sandboxes are in action.

One of the most popular of these toolboxes is the aptly-named Augmented Reality Sandbox built by the UC Davis W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences for an NSF-funded project on informal science education. Learn the latest updates, and keep up with developments on the project page here and here. This sandbox works with a Kinect 3D camera and a projector to project a real-time colored topographic map with contour lines onto the sand surface. Mathematical GPU-based simulations govern the virtual water flow over the surface. This sandbox is already an interactive display at the University of California Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) and the Lawrence Hall of Science at University of California, Berkeley, among many other places. There are some cool demo videos for this sandbox, depicting real-time water flow simulation with respect to topography and virtual dam failure simulation, among others.

See a detailed article on Wired about this sandbox here.

A company from the Czech Republic offers their SandyStation augmented reality sandbox. Two good lists and descriptions of other virtual reality sandboxes all over the world are available here and here.

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About WQ

I received my PhD (2013) in Remote Sensing, Earth and Space Science at the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA, under a Fulbright fellowship. Currently, I'm an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Space Science at Institute of Space Technology (IST), Islamabad, Pakistan, where I have been a founding member of the Geospatial Research & Education Lab (GREL). My general expertise is in Remote Sensing where I have worked with various remote sensing datasets through my career, while for my PhD thesis I specifically worked on Remote Sensing using SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and Oceanography, working extensively on development of techniques to measure ocean surface currents from space-borne SAR intensity images and interferometric data. My research interests are: Remote sensing, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery and interferometric data processing & analysis, Visible/Infrared/High-resolution satellite image processing & analysis, Oceanography, Earth system study and modelling, LIDAR data processing and analysis, Scientific programming. I am a reviewer for IEEE Transactions on Geoscience & Remote Sensing, Forest Ecosystems, GIScience & Remote Sensing, Journal of African Earth Sciences, and Italian Journal of Agronomy. I am an alumnus of Pakistan National Physics Talent Contest (NPTC), an alumnus of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, a Fulbright alumnus, and the Pakistan National Point of Contact for Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). I was an invited speaker at the TEDxIslamabad event held in Nov., 2014. I've served as mentor in the NASA International Space App Challenge Islamabad events in April 2015 and April 2016.

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