Torquay’s coastal zoo has installed the state-of-the-art augmented reality sandpits to encourage active play and fun exercise. Staff were keen to introduce new technology and saw an example at a trade show.

Living Coasts spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “We wanted to provide new and better stuff for kids. This is for children of all ages plus family groups, it’s disability-friendly and adds a new dimension to a fun day out. The sandpit uses the latest software technology from Breeze Creative, based in the US. The coastal and underwater scenes suit us perfectly.”

The Animated Sandbox is augmented reality that can be used by several children at once and adds a whole new level to the classic idea of the sandpit. When children shape the sand into mountains and valleys, an overhead sensor maps the area, analyses the change and reacts to it. The raised areas turn green and plants appear randomly. In the low areas, the projection is sea blue and marine creatures appear there and move around. The coastal areas become yellow, like sand on a beach, and crabs appear. 

Operations Manager Clare Rugg: “It’s really quite amazing. When the system detects someone moving around the sandbox, more creatures appear in that area. The creatures and plants react to height and stay in their natural environment. The combination of direct physical interaction, a familiar tactile material like sand and the technology work together in a surprising and delightful way. It’s fun, active and creative. Staff love it – but they have to give way to guests when we open at 10:00am!”

Quotes The presenter talks were great, we learnt a lot about the animals here. Quotes