Guest post by Paul Fraser.
After hours of walking the SIGGRAPH 2010 expo aisles, you just need to unplug and have a little playtime in the sand. One exhibit located in the Art Gallery of the conference provided a sandy oasis from the sea of computer graphics and electronic do-dads.
Glowing Pathfinder Bugs, an interactive art installation created by Anthony Rowe and the digital arts group Squidsoup, allowed participants to manipulate the topography of a sandpit, which would change how projected virtual bugs respond in real time to their surroundings.
Using a haptic 3D interface, the piece was designed to encourage participants to look after, control, and even breed the bugs—sort of like you would with a Tamagotchi digital pet (remember those??). But most people just enjoyed lifting the bugs up high and then letting them splat against the sand.
The piece definitely was a crowd pleaser. Perhaps future sandboxes or other play areas will be commonly equipped with portable projectors, sensors, and software that allow kids to play in both the real and virtual worlds.
We posted a video of people handling (and dropping) the virtual bugs above.