Interactive SandBox: new interactive design tool for the direct visualisation of coastal interventions

Published: 14 October 2016

Deltares experts have developed a new Augmented Reality (AR) design tool called 'The SandBox' for coastal interventions anywhere in the world. The SandBox was already on display at the Sand Motor congress in September but the new version can be seen soon at the Flood Risk Conference in Lyon.


Designing the coast with your hands

The SandBox is literally a box with a model of part of the Dutch coast on the wooden bottom that people can use to shape a design with their own hands. Adjustments in the bed in the SandBox are measured in real time and transmitted to a hydraulic coast model, after which the calculated tidal currents and other model results can be visualised instantaneously in the SandBox.

Tool for encouraging co-design

The SandBox has been conceived as a tool for encouraging co-design, a process in which designers and stakeholders can develop a design together and communicate interactively about issues such as design requirements and environmental effects. The SandBox can be also used for communications in education, for science and for educational activities about flood risks.

Underlying technology

The technology of the SandBox is based on the LakeViz3D project in the United States, which designed the first AR Sandbox in 2012 for educational purposes, and made the design and the software publicly available. Since then, more than 150 different AR Sandboxes have been built around the world. The system uses a Kinect camera to measure the topography in the sandbox and a beamer to project visualisations in the box. The innovative feature of the Deltares SandBox is the real-time link with a Delft3D Flexible Mesh model that allows for interactive design.

On display at conferences

The SandBox will be on display at the Deltares stand (numbers 15 and 18) at the Flood Risk Conference in Lyon, France, and there will also be demonstrations at the Delft Software Days (DSD-INT 2016) from 24 October – 4 November, and Deltares@AGU from 7-16 December 2016 in San Francisco, USA.


The SandBox was developed by Arjen Luijendijk (coastal expert) and Fedor Baart (computer simulation specialist) from Deltares with help from two students at Delft University of Technology, Gerben Hagenaars and Jesse Metz.