Open AR-Sandbox: A haptic interface for geoscience education and outreach
Virtual reality concepts have been widely adapted to teach geoscientific content, most notably in virtual field trips—with increased developments due to recent travel restrictions and challenges of field access. On the spectrum between real and fully virtual environments are also combinations of digital and real content in mixed-reality environments. In this category, augmented-reality (AR) sandboxes have been used as a valuable tool for science outreach and teaching due to their intuitive and
... aptic interaction-enhancing operation. Most of the common AR-sandboxes are limited to the visualization of topography with contour lines and colors, as well as water simulations on the digital terrain surface. We show here how we can get beyond this limitation, through an open-source implementation of an AR-sandbox system with a versatile interface written in the free and cross-platform programming language Python. This implementation allows for creative and novel applications in geosciences education and outreach in general. With a link to a 3-D geomodelling system, we show how we can display geologic subsurface information such as the outcropping lithology, creating an interactive geological map for structural geology classes. The relations of subsurface structures, topography, and outcrop can be explored in a playful and comprehensible way. Additional examples include the visualizations of geophysical fields and the propagation of seismic waves, as well as simulations of Earth surface processes. We further extended the functionality with ArUco-marker detection to enable more precise and flexible interaction with the projected content. In combination, with these developments, we aim to make AR-sandbox systems, with the additional dimension of haptic interactions, accessible to a wider range of geoscientific applications for education and outreach.