On the road for VR: The White House, Washington DC

Through a complex chain of circumstances, we got ourselves invited to demonstrate the Augmented Reality Sandbox at the White House Water Summit on March 22, coinciding with the United Nations’ World Water Day 2016, as part of the National Science Foundation‘s presence (NSF funded initial development of the AR Sandbox through an Informal Science Education grant).

Figure 1: Mark I standard-issue AR Sandbox in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, pre-exhibition.

Figure 1: Mark I standard-issue AR Sandbox in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, pre-exhibition.

Figure 2: The White House (West Wing in foreground), as seen from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Figure 2: The White House (West Wing in foreground), as seen from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

We decided — somewhat recklessly —  to use this opportunity to unveil the newly-designed and untested “Mark I standard-issue AR Sandbox,” based on a professionally-engineered mechanical design and custom-ordered 80/20 powder-coated aluminum components (see Figure 1).

Figure 3: AR Sandbox from second-floor balcony, still pre-exhibition. In lower-right corner: exhibit on danish approach to water treatment, obviously built with LEGO bricks.

Figure 3: AR Sandbox from second-floor balcony, still pre-exhibition. In lower-right corner: exhibit on danish approach to water treatment, naturally built with LEGO bricks.

We shipped the AR Sandbox, broken down into 80/20 pieces, plus PC, projector, and Kinect, as checked luggage in three oversized Pelican cases, and assembled it into four modules (base, sand table, lower tower, upper tower with projector and Kinect attached) the night before in my hotel room. We then brought the modules, plus six boxes of Kinetic sand, onto the White House grounds and into the exhibit room early in the morning, and did final assembly and calibration on-site, see Figure 4.

Figure 4: Calibrating the AR Sandbox, still sans sand.

Figure 4: Calibrating the AR Sandbox, still sans sand.

Fortunately, everything worked without problems, and the exhibit was a big success. Now we’re preparing for the next big DC event, the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival later this month.

New commercial-grade AR Sandbox model at the White House Water Summit, 03/22/2016. Left to right: Dr. Louise H. Kellogg, Neysa Call (Legislative Aide and Grants Director for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid), Dr. S. Geoffrey Schladow, Dr. Oliver Kreylos. Photo credit: Terry Davies, National Science Foundation.

Figure 5: Ready for showtime. Left to right: Dr. Louise H. Kellogg, Neysa Call (photobombing from Senator Reid’s office), Dr. S. Geoffrey Schladow, Dr. Oliver Kreylos. Photo credit: Terry Davies, National Science Foundation.

6 thoughts on “On the road for VR: The White House, Washington DC

  1. Very nice! Would you consider publishing the Mark I design or the specs for the aluminum component order for those wanting to replicate such a professional look?

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