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Virtual Reality Sandbox Shows The Movement Of Natural Terrain [Video]

Virtual Reality Sandbox Shows The Movement Of Natural Terrain [Video]

Real-time topography gives children and adults an interactive way to learn about landscape

Ross Brooks

Researchers at UC Davis have come up with an idea that fuses the physical and virtual in a way that will allow children to experience the world from a unique perspective – as opposed to immersing themselves in a screen of some sort.

While it may look like an ordinary sandbox, this particular play area comes to life once children have had their turn molding it’s contents into an intricate and varied landscape.

A camera mounted above the sandbox tracks the physical activity of those playing below. As the terrain is altered, a projector throws a dynamic topographic map on top of it all, updating contour lines and elevation colors in real time. The projector is even able to create a virtual rainstorm, sending water crashing down the peaks, as well as showing runoff and watershed on the landscape.


Presented with minimal instruction – play, curiosity, and self-driven learning are all encouraged, often leading to collaboration between strangers. Creating a breathtaking piece of terrain is something that adults are just as keen to enjoy as children.

The idea was Inspired by a YouTube video from a group of Czech researchers posted last year.

For a look at the technology in its current state, make sure to watch the vide below:

UC Davis

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