Augmented Reality Sandbox

SIPI has constructed two watershed simulation sandboxes designed by the University of California, Davis. The sandboxes use an Xbox Kinect to generate a depth map of the terrain below, and projects a topographic overlay with color differentiated elevations onto the sand. This is an excellent demonstration for visiting high school students in showing how STEM fields come together to produce cool projects while also providing a fun and interactive activity.

The students involved in the construction of the AR sandboxes learned valuable skills about the processes required in planning, purchasing, and manufacturing an assembly such as this. Substituting the pre-built metal cart for a custom wooden frame reduced the cost and complexity of building the AR sandbox. Building a wooden frame brings the cost of the AR Sandbox from $2400 to $1600

For more information about the sandbox, or to build you own, visit this link for the AR Sandbox website:

Cost Analysis


    • $1400 for PC/electronic components and sand
    • $300 for wooden frame


    • $144 (6 hours, 2 people @ $12/hour)

Tamara Greymountain assisting with the construction of a new sandbox

The above animation was created by a student using Autodesk Inventor