Provoking curiosity and imagination through play.


SandPix is an installation that explores the ideas surrounding current and future play spaces. Beyond solving the problems, needs, or issues in today’s world, digital technology has a strong role in providing playful, enjoyable experiences. SandPix explores how physical and digital worlds can be merged into a delightful, engaging space.




By applying current technology on top of the existing concept of a sandbox, older kids, adolescents and adults are drawn back into a space they once knew. A Kinect camera above a glass box captures the position and depth of sand inside and also detects the location of the user’s hands. A projector below paints a water-like background with particles onto the bottom of the box. A simple Open Frameworks program uses the captured data from the Kinect to create an interactive space where the particles projected respond to the movement of the sand and the location of the user’s hands. This allows users to trap, guide, and interact with particles floating by. The installation also invites users to come and play by changing the colors of the background as they draw closer to the space.


Sand in itself is nothing extraordinary, just a simple raw material found almost everywhere. Yet in its simplicity, spaces such as beaches and sandboxes provide fun experiences that leave young children occupied for hours. Such spaces are extremely essential for play and development. It is here where kids learn to work out problems in a safe environment through exercising their imagination.


At a certain age, kids move on from sandboxes, play dough, and building blocks to more complex toys. But often enough, toys for older kids leave little room for imagination. Space for imagination is extremely important and essential for play and development in people of all ages. SandPix experiments with adding a layer of technology to traditional toys to help older kids and adults re-engage in childhood play spaces that encourage exploration and problem solving.




The goal of my project was to explore interactions within play spaces. My process began by brainstorming and sketching different ideas of how to match technology with play. I created mood boards of inspiration, and did some tutorials of OpenFrameworks to explore my possibilities. I narrowed my project to the idea of using technology in a sandbox. I had seen some projects that had used a projection above the sand to create a new interactive experience for the sandbox. What bothered me on the majority of projects I saw was that the user’s hands came in-between the projection and the sand creating a shadow which broke the immersion of the user’s experience. I decided to try a different spin on the project by projecting below the sand. I built a glass box, and began experimenting with a Kinect camera above, with a projector below. After adding sand and programing with OpenFrameworks, I began user testing. As a solo project, I completed all concept development, protoyping, and programing.


sandboxinstallationScreen-Shot-2012-12-06-at-10.54.01-PM projection