Remember all the times you spent building impossible sandbox structures as a kid so that you could drive your toy cars through them? While seeing a grown adult do the same thing may seem kind of…well, weird, Audi has given us an excellent reason to jump right back in the sandbox and become a kid once again.
Enter Sandbox is a VR experience that starts not with a headset, but with a children’s sandbox. After engineering whatever monster track you envision in the sand, a depth-sensing camera scans the sandbox via infrared light and converts the terrain into an explorable 3D environment. Once finished, all you need to do is pop on an Oculus Rift VR headset, sit in a VR chair, and drive a virtual Audi Q5 through the sand world you just created.
Seriously, folks, this is kind of amazing.
The way the camera scans the sandbox is pretty awesome. When bombarding the sandbox with infrared light, it measures the time and distance it takes for the light to bounce back. Should a person feel clever and dig all the way to the bottom of the box, the camera turns the sandless space into a puddle of shallow water you can drive over in VR.
Controlling the virtual Audi Q5 is done through a specialized Audi controller steering wheel and brake pedals. They aren’t so different from the peripherals you’d find in a standard chair for racing games; they just happen to have the Audi logo stamped on them.
The Enter Sandbox experience went on tour to various Audi dealers and events in Norway last 2017, where grown adults could leap into the sandbox without being judged and make their own virtual tracks. No word yet on when the experiential popups will be heading to other European countries or stateside, but we’re most definitely getting our pail and shovel ready while keeping our fingers crossed.