UCLA introduces the Augmented Reality Sandbox

WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Students at the University of California, Los Angeles are capitalizing on an innovative teaching tool that mixes virtual reality with a sandbox.

Professors at the school created the Augmented Reality Sandbox using off-the-shelf parts: A regular computer, an XBOX 360 Kinect camera and a projector.

It looks like an ordinary sandbox, but it's really a 3-D virtual world where you can make scenic dreams come to life buy building virtual mountains and rivers.

"We use it to teach students about topography, said Gary Glesener of UCLA. "It helps students visualize topography."

The 3-D sandbox allows users to see their creation come to life in color and in real time.

The program also has practical uses such as creating rain to see how it flows just as it would in the real world. Scientists can even use the innovative tool to see how rain or flash floods would affect a neighborhood or a city.

A fun perk is you can change your 3-D world with just a swipe of a hand.

"It's mesmerizing, and some people will sit here for, like, an hour just playing with it," said Glesener.

UCLA will be holding a big science fair where people can create their own worlds with the virtual sandbox. The event is set for Sunday, Nov. 8.
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