A few months back I was able to showcase the AR sandbox i assembled at the Toronto Maker Festival. Here is what the experience taught me:

The Maker community in Toronto is massive

It’s impressive to see how many creative projects requiring building/assembling/making are happening in Toronto. This includes variety, from robots to 3D printing to art installations (See all projects here). The educational potential of this community is incredible as well. There were hundreds of kids learning how to assemble parts, solder, and generally learn by doing.

Most common question

“What are the real world applications of the sandbox?”

This question was loaded with participants sharing what they(mostly adults) thought the sandbox could be used for (landscaping models, golf course models, land development models). Primarily, the sentiment was that the sandbox should be used to model real world study areas. It seemed that most adults, when seeing the sandbox, related the experience to seeing models/plans of new condo developments or desired to apply a real world topography into the sandbox. This was in contrast with the children, who enjoyed creating mountains, rivers, lakes, and lakes with islands. The most creative decision was a made by one boy who wanted to make the sand completely flat.

Intuitive, self-evident design

The sandbox is incredibly intuitive. Most people, children and adults alike, required no instructions to start molding imagined landscapes in the sand. Along with the users using the sandbox, there was a self-evident explanation of how the sandbox was working. After minimal inspection, nearly all adults would explain to their children how the sandbox was operating, mainly that there was a sensor measuring the depth change, a computer processing the sensor data, and a projector mapping the image onto the sand. If anything, the sandbox acted as an opportunity for parents to work on their communication skills with their children. They only really looked toward me for approval of their explanations.

Thank you to the organizers of the event, it was simply awesome and i look forward to creating something new next year.