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The Augmented Reality Sandtable for Military Planning

A recent project developed by the Army Research Lab allows you to create realistic terrains in minutes using a high-tech, projection-mapped sandtable. The Augmented Reality Sandtable (ARES) uses a typical pro+cam setup (in this case, a projector and V1 Kinect) to allow terrain editing and visualization. By moving the sand, you can manipulate a colored height map in real-time, or satelite imagery can be projected onto the terrain for planning or wargamming. This video shows off some of the neat capabilities of the ARES.


Sandtables have been used for education and planning purposes for thousands of years, and they are still a prominent medium for military planning and simulation purposes. Virtual sandtables (using touchscreens) have recently become more popular, but ARES takes this technology a step further with the one-of-a-kind mix of physical and virtual environments via projection mapping.

There have been research projects around the idea of AR sandtables; in fact you can even build your own AR sandtable with code available from Oliver Kreylos. ARES is likely based on this project, but this is the first time we’ve seen a commercial demonstration.

For more information, check out the article from the Marine Corps Times and the Creators Project.