Amazing ARES Augmented Reality Sandbox

Remarkable proof-of-concept allows military planners to use a high-tech sandbox to more clearly visualize operations.

(Augment REality Sandbox video)

The Augmented REality Sandtable (ARES) proof-of-concept is a traditional sandtable, filled with play sand, augmented with a commerical-off-the-shelf projector, LCD monitor, laptop, and Microsoft Kinect. The Kinect senses user gestures, changes to the sand “terrain,” and potentially, verbal commands as forms of user interaction. ARES projects moving military units, terrain features, and other data onto the sand.


Improved battlespace visualization.
Decreased time to author 3D terrains and scenarios.
Increased student engagement / retention levels.
Joint / Coalition Wargaming and Mission Planning through networked ARES tables.

Stanislaw Lem's marvelous 1965 story The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age contains a presentiment of the ARES device.

In the story, Trurl (the constructor robot) gives an amazing gift to an exiled dictator - a kingdom in a box:

...all of this ... fit into a box ... just the size to be carried about with ease. This Trurl presented to Excelcius, to rule and have dominion over forever; but first he showed him where the input and output of his brand-new kingdom were, and how to program wars, quell rebellions, exact tribute, collect taxes ... and explained everything so well that the king, an old hand in the running of tyrannies, instantly grasped the directions and, without hesitation, while the constructor watched, issued a few trial proclamations, correctly manipulating the control knobs, which were carved with imperial eagles and regal lions.
(Read more about Stanislaw Lem's kingdom in a box)

Consider the cool table display from the X-Men movie, which was also used for planning operations.

(3D table display from the X-Men [2000])

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