While I truly appreciate the need for any kid to get dirty in a sandbox or let their imagination run wild in a field of mud puddles (something I was doing myself only an hour ago), I love to see how technology like a Kinect 3D camera can create new interactive environments and games. Case in point this new augmented reality sandbox designed by Oliver Kreylos out of U.C. Davis that projects a real-time colored topographic map complete with contour lines onto the surface of the sand while you manipulate it. The system even allows you to pour virtual water on your creation and interact with it in real time. It’s not hard to imagine switching the entire system to volcano mode, or using the projection in some sort of three dimensional toy battlefield. Gah!
According to Krelos’ YouTube page, the project was funded by the National Science Foundation with the hopes of installing these systems as exhibits at science museums like the Lawrence Hall of Science or the Tahoe Environmental Research Center. See another demo of this 21st century sandbox here. (via reddit)