Bringing out the big kid in all of us.
Remember how much fun you had playing in the sandbox as a kid? With handfuls of toy cars and a wild imagination, you could create your own mini world of dunes, jumps and turns that required some serious driving skills.
Well now Audi wants to put you inside that toy car and let you drive those sandbox tracks you just made.
In what Audi is calling “Enter Sandbox,” the real-time VR experience combines a physical installation with an immersive driving simulator, letting you test-drive the new Audi Q5 on a sandbox track you just made with your own hands.
The purpose-built sandpit is based on the nostalgic idea of awakening your inner-child, but instead of playing with toy cars, they’re letting you play from the inside of the car.
You are first introduced to an actual sandbox where you can build tracks and jumps. The sand is then carefully scanned by a Kinect depth-sensing camera, from which a virtual world is rendered. With the terrain data now built into your own virtual track, you can buckle up in the new Audi Q5, which becomes a portal to the virtual world you just created. The driving simulator includes pedals, steering wheel and Oculus Rift headset.
The installation was developed by MediaMonks in line with Audi Norway’s creative agency POL’s creative concept. To be able to 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 an Audi Q5.
You can also check out some behind-the-scenes in the video below:
“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.
While the idea behind the “Enter Sandbox” originates in Norway, it may be made available to other countries and markets following the launch phase. The installation and simulator can be packed up to transport, so hopefully one day we’ll get a chance to shape and drive this childhood fantasy ourselves soon.