Have you ever wanted to sculpt mountains, canyons and rivers with your hands, then fill them with water or even create erupting volcanoes? Thanks to a research team at UCLA it is now possible to do these 'godly' activities in an 'Augmented Reality Sandbox'. You won't need particularly heavenly hardware budget for your terraforming hand waving; the key components used in the video demo you see below are an Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card, an Xbox Kinect sensor and a projector.
Gary Glesener, director of UCLA's Modeling and Educational Demonstrations Laboratory, says the system was devised to help students learn about topography. Students use the system to recreate topographic features of a geographic area by manipulating the 'sand'. It's interesting to see the system demonstrated as Glesener carves the landscape, rains water onto it and created lakes and flowing rivers.
As well as the GeForce graphics card, the Kinect, and projector, the Augmented Reality Sandbox requires regular playground sand. The surface depth and shape is monitored by the Kinect and processed using open source software, with imagery fed back to the projector to show a colour coded contour map. As you can see, the system works in real-time.
Nvidia at SIGGRAPH 2015
In other Nvidia news the firm has been trailing its appearance at SIGGRAPH 2015. The green team reckons that attendees will be asking "Is it real or is it rendered?" at Nvidia's booth 500 exhibit area. Nvidia claims that its rendering and light simulation software, and latest suite of design tools, "make it virtually impossible to tell the real from the rendered."
On show will be systems which use Nvidia technology to provide architects and product design teams a glance at reality, through physically based rendering. There will also be a 'Real or Rendered' competition with an Nvidia Quadro graphics card and SHIELD Android TV box up for grabs.
SIGGRAPH 2015 runs from 9th to 13th August and takes place in Los Angeles.