Case study

AR Sandbox

The Details

Working alongside our friends at Because Experiential Marketing we were tasked by Watercare Services Limited to create an AR Sandbox as part of a wider range of projects. We also created a multi-screen ride animation, VR experience, fun games & an interactive Quiz, which can be viewed within our work page.
All of the above are being showcased on a roadshow tour of Auckland, to raise awareness of their “Central Interceptor” construction that will be completed in 2025 to massively improve the current waste water system.
This AR Sandbox is a fun way of showing the movement of water across various topographies, that can be created in the sand to make mountains or valleys, with the added ability to make rain clouds with your hand.

The Process

Let’s get this straight, Austella are a content development studio, not a workshop, we’re soft not hard when it comes to ware. So you’ll have to excuse the less than professional environment of one of our guys garage. However, the Sandbox is a beauty & allows us now to use as a test bed for further AR sandbox software development into Education & Gamification.
We needed to make this strong, each bag of play sand we used weighed 25KG, we used 6 bags. So not only did we have to account for 150KG of sand in it, but the projector & camera above, and also have consideration for a number of kids & adults leaning on it.
Get the angles & positions right. The motion camera can be dead centre of the sandbox, 1M up from the sand. The projector should be centre on the Y axis (left to right), but set back on the X axis (front to back). Getting this wrong with a desktop projector aiming downward, means could be projecting onto the floor not the sand.
Typey typey code code, everything needs coding from depth colouring, water behaviour, calibration program, etc, etc, yep all the smart stuff that didn’t involve a power saw.
Calibration is of huge importance, projecting hill tops & craters on top of the correct sand sculpted locations is key, with any slight divergence from tolerance very noticeable to the user. It’s a fairly straight forward process of aligning the motion camera (Kinect in this case) to the projector, via a series of cross-hairs at various heights.
When everything is built, aligned, coded & calibrated, it’s time to test that all behaves as it should do. So time to have a play test.
The Sandbox was far too big to send to the client in New Zealand, so we shipped the motion camera, projector, arcade button assembly, calibration tool & Linux PC (boots straight into Sandbox program on power up) over. We then sent a comprehensive built pack/instructions with all critical dimensions required, and finally a video tutorial on how to calibrate once built.
Load it up on the trailer with all the other goodies we’ve created, and time to hit the road.

The Results

100 %

Feedback of great fun to play with

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