A New AR Sandbox Support Forum

Apparently, the AR Sandbox is still a thing and going strong after ten years, with over 850 registered installations world-wide according to the AR Sandbox World Map. There was a lull in new installations and community activity during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, but things are picking up again, and with that I am seeing an increasing amount of requests for help arriving in my personal email.

An AR Sandbox.

The old AR Sandbox support forum, which was quite active and significantly reduced my support load, not only by allowing me to answer common questions only once instead of dozens of times, but also by community members directly helping each other, unfortunately went down due to hardware problems a good while ago, and there is currently no avenue of getting it back up.

So I decided to create a new AR Sandbox support forum on this here web site, as a hopefully temporary replacement. I was not able to move over any of the old forum content due to not having access to the original database files, which is a major pity because there was a ton of helpful stuff on there. I am hoping that the new forum will accumulate its own set of helpful stuff quickly, and if/when I migrate the forum to a permanent location, I will be able to move all content because I have full access to this web site’s code and database. So here’s hoping.

This is the first forum on this web site, so I hope that things will work right from the start; if not, we’ll figure out how to fix it. Please be patient.

And as a quick reminder: These are the only official AR Sandbox installation instructions. Accept no substitutes.

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.

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On the road for VR: Augmented World Expo 2013

I’ve just returned from the 2013 Augmented World Expo, where we showcased our Augmented Reality Sandbox. This marked the first time we took the sandbox on the road; we had only shown it publicly twice before, during UC Davisannual open house in 2012 and 2013. The first obstacle popped up right from the get-go: the sandbox didn’t fit through the building doors! We had to remove the front door’s center column to get the sandbox out and into the van. And we needed a forklift to get it out of the van at the expo, but fortunately there were pros around.

Figure 1: Me, digging into the sandbox, with a few onlookers. Photo provided by Marshall Millett.

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AR Sandbox news

The first “professionally built” AR sandbox, whose physical setup was designed and built by the fine folks from the San Francisco Exploratorium, arrived at its new home at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.

Figure 1: Picture of ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center’s Augmented Reality Sandbox during installation on the exhibit floor. Note the portrait orientation of the sand table with respect to the back panel, the projector tilt to make up for it, and the high placement of the Kinect camera (visible at the very top of the picture). Photo provided by Travis Cook, ECHO.

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… and they did!

build their own augmented reality sandboxes, that is.

We still haven’t installed the three follow-up AR sandboxes at the participating institutions of our informal science education NSF projectTahoe Environmental Research Center, Lawrence Hall of Science, and ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center — but others have picked up the slack and gone ahead and built their own, based on our software and designs.

Figure 1: Augmented reality sandbox constructed by “Code Red,” Ithaca High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 639, and shown here at the school’s open house on 02/02/2013.

The newest addition to my External Installations page is “Code Red,” Ithaca High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 639, who just unveiled theirs at their school’s open house (see Figure 1), and were kind enough to send a note and some pictures, with many more “behind the scenes” pictures on their sandbox project page. There’s an article in the local newspaper with more information as well.

Together with Bold Park Community School’s, this is the second unveiled AR sandbox that I’m aware of. That doesn’t sound like much, but the software hasn’t been out for that long, and there are a few others that I know are currently in the works. And who knows how many are being built or are already completed that I’m totally unaware of; after all, this is free software. Team 639’s achievement, for one, came completely out of the blue.

Update: And I missed this Czech project (no, not that other Czech project that gave us the idea in the first place!). They built several versions of the sandbox and showed them off at hacker meets. And they say they’re currently trying to port the software to lower-power computers. Good on them!

Update 2: One more I missed, this time done by/for the Undergraduate Library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I don’t have any more information; but this is the YouTube video.

I should point out that these last two were news to me; I only found out about them after googling for “AR sandbox.”

So please, if you did build one and don’t mind, send me a note. 🙂 There’s a ready-made box awaiting your input right there ↓↓↓↓