Ekaterina Daviel, Monica Oliva and Ingrid Farnell play with the sandbox. Michael Grace-Dacosta photo

VIDEO: Smithers get its first augmented reality sandbox

Locals got to experience a bit of augmented reality last Wednesday

Last Wednesday, the Bulkley Valley Research Centre (BVRC) partnered with Eclipse Geomatics to host an interactive learning session about an augmented reality sandbox at the Old Church in honour of geographic information systems day.

The exhibit was built by Eclipse Geomatics who were inspired by a video from scientists at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) explaining how they created the sandbox.

“We thought it was a really interesting concept and thought we would give it a try,” said Johanna Pfalz, owner of Eclipse Geomatics.

The UC Davis scientists uploaded the software they used as an open source code and included diagrams on how to physically build the sandbox.

Despite the instructions left behind Pfalz said building the exhibit wasn’t easy. Learning Lynx, software that is essential to the exhibit, learning how use and navigate the open source program, as well as finding out the diagrams that were not as informative as they hoped where challenges to Pfalz’s team.

This is without even mentioning the cost of the software, which is around $5,000-8,000, according to Pfalz.

“Every sandbox is a little different because the technology,” said Pfalz. “There’s a little bit of fine tuning in getting all these pieces to talk together.”

Pfalz said she hopes to use the sandbox to teach kids about watershed education but as of now, it’s not realistic to bring the exhibit to schools as it takes too long to set up.

“I just think sometimes living up north we don’t always get exposed to as many opportunities,” said Pfalz. “Our kids in school can’t just go down to Science World and see the latest exhibit. This is kind of my way of giving something back.”

The BVRC is accepting donations towards the Sandbox program to fund further watershed educational activities utilizing the augmented reality sandbox.

For more information about the sandbox visit bvcentre.ca/get-involved/ar_sandbox.

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Locals play with the sandbox Michael Grace-Dacosta photo

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