Get your hands dirty with the augmented reality sandbox at Imagine RIT May 6

Software engineering students to showcase their interactive projects at campus-wide festival

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RIT software engineering student Wade Mauger works on an augmented reality sandbox that will be part of the Society of Software Engineers exhibit at Imagine RIT.

Dreams will become reality—augmented reality—at the Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival on May 6.

Students from RIT’s Society of Software Engineers will showcase projects they’ve been building throughout the school year, including an augmented reality display that turns a sandbox into an interactive topographical map. The hands-on exhibit, located in the Computer Zone in Golisano Hall, room 1670, will allow festivalgoers to create a custom landscape and learn about how the augmented experience was developed.

To create the sandbox project, students used a Microsoft Kinect camera to track activity in the sand in real-time. As visitors move the sand around—creating mountains and valleys—a digital projector throws color onto the landscape, resulting in deep blue rivers, green hills and rocky mountaintops.

“The Kinect has a 3D-depth camera, which allows us to read different depth points in the sand and create software that projects landscape color mapping over the sand,” said Wade Mauger, a third-year software engineering major from Schaefferstown, Pa. “The project was very software intensive, trying to translate and express different data structures.”

Mauger decided to create the interactive sandbox after seeing videos of similar projects online. The team found different ways to approach the project, including the calibration system which required new code to account for different shadows. They also hope create a version of the project that can be used with a Microsoft HoloLens.

The software engineering group will also show-off a remotely controlled jukebox that plays music from the Spotify API, a digital course planner that allows students to reorder their yearly classes at RIT and a homemade, high dynamic range (HDR) display.

“There are no commercial display technologies that truly mimic what it’s like to look outside on a sunny day—so we decided to create one,” said Michael Timbrook, a fifth-year software engineering major from Alfred Station, N.Y. “This display uses a high-powered projector and a lot of math to show images with a large range of color contrast and intensity.”

The student-run Society of Software Engineers (SSE) serves as a social and academic hub for RIT students interested in fields relating to software engineering and development. The community is open to all students, regardless of major, and focuses on scholarly excellence, networking and extracurricular projects.

To learn more about Imagine RIT and plan your day for May 6, go to