Having been the grunt behind having to create sand tables (a few decades ago) when I saw this I was immediately impressed and could see the potential. Now THIS is my tax dollars at work!
Video game technology has aided researchers in creating realistic 3-D battlespace maps using a simple sand box.
Called the Augmented Reality Sand Table, the concept is under development by the Army Research Laboratory and on display at this year’s Modern Day Marine on Marine Corps Base Quantico. The set-up is simple: a small sand box is rigged with a Microsoft Kinect video game motion sensor and an off-the-shelf projector. Using existing software, the sensor can detect features in the sand and project a realistic topographical map that corresponds to the layout — one that can change at a moment’s notice when observers move the sand around in the box.
“If you project the plan with the real map, everyone gets it,” Amburn said. “You look at a map of their village and you show it to them and they get it.”
Future possibilities include large-scale models that could project over a gymnasium floor for a battalion briefing, and a smartphone version that could use a pocket-sized projector to turn any patch of dirt into an operational 3-D map. The concept can be developed to allow users to move structures or map features in the projection with just a hand gesture, said Amburn. And the platform and map technology can also be customized to serve the spectrum of requirements, from tide tables for the Navy to firefighting models for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Amburn said West Point has asked for the system, and officials at The Basic School are evaluating the system to determine usefulness and pinpoint future requirements that the Office of Naval Research will then develop. Research on the system will continue for at least the next nine months, Amburn said, with new features rolled out every month or so.
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