Audi installation lets you create racetrack in sandbox, then test-drive it in VR

[The creative marketing tool described in this story from Medium raises interesting questions about the roles of scale, personalization and nostalgia in presence experiences. The original story includes other images and both mentioned videos; an interactive 360 degree demonstration video is available from Audi Norway and on YouTube. The project is a logical extension of the AR Sandbox created at UC Davis. –Matthew]

A VR Sandbox for Your Inner Child

Alice Bonasio
Feb 27, 2017

This sandbox 2.0 VR installation promises to make test-driving a whole lot more fun. The experience was created as a partnership between Audi Norway, MediaMonks and Oslo-based creative agency POL by combining a physical installation with virtual reality.

“For many of us, playing with cars in the sandpit is a distant memory. Let’s face it, the opportunity rarely presents itself once you pass a certain age,” says Tommy Jensen Marketing Manager of Audi Norway. “The Sandbox 2.0 is a state-of-the-art toy for kids and adults. It provides a platform to rekindle the joys of driving and demonstrate the assets of the Q5 and the quattro technology in a playful and accessible way.”

You’re invited to get into a purpose-built sandpit, where you can build a customised track. The real-life sand is then scanned with a depth-sensing camera, which renders it into virtual reality. The size of the jumps and the challenge of the course are all dictated by the sandy self-made chicanes.

In order to accurately capture every bump and curve, the sand is bombarded with short bursts of infrared light with over 200,000 measure points captured by the infrared camera. This data is then used to create a 3D model that informs the virtual environment. Once in the car, the driver experiences all the tangibility of a real-life drive, from feedback in the steering wheel, to the actual sounds of the vehicle.

“When you put on the headset you don’t just see the inside of a Audi Q5. This virtual world has real depth. You can look around and explore behind stuff. It’s really exciting to watch as people experience this for the first time,” says Tom Eriksen, Creative Director at MediaMonks. “To create a VR experience that is totally believable, it’s important that the driving environment also feels real. Not only the visual part but also the feel of the steering wheel and its feedback when you hit the sand.”

“Another factor in the immersion of VR, is audio. So we’ve used the engine sound from a real Audi Q5. Then our sound software renders a realistic and dynamic three-dimensional sound experience,” adds Johan Ansterus, VR Producer at MediaMonks.

Although the sandbox idea originated in Norway, it is specifically designed to enable easy transportation, and there are plans to take it around the world following the launch phase, so we might get to play in one at some point soon, we can’t wait!

PS. We’re also loving the fact that the video shows a girl in the driving seat.


Originally published at Alice Bonasio.

Audi: Enter Sandbox TVC from MediaMonks on Vimeo.
The Making of Audi: Enter Sandbox from MediaMonks on Vimeo.

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