Indoor Rock Wall Incorporates Projected Graphics for Augmented Climbing


An augmented-reality climb helps everyone from experienced rock climbers to kids

Rachel Pincus
  • 22 august 2014

Rock climbing is one of those indoor sports that a lot of people could benefit from, but that has some major barriers to entry. Aside from all the fancy gym-based equipment you need if you don’t live in a natural climbing area, the sport presents both a physical and an intellectual challenge, with bouldering — climbing without a harness — ranking as one of the more intense ways to go about it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.29.49 PM.png

Bouldering paths on artificial walls are appropriately referred to as ‘problems,’ and they are usually color-coded with a piece of tape, but what if you want to go off the beaten path, or just focus on climbing without having to crane your neck up? Technology can help, as a group of Media Technology researchers at Aalto University in Finland have demonstrated. Using a Kinect sensor and a projector, they’ve developed a form of ‘augmented climbing’ that helps gamify the experience and keeps climbers on their toes.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.30.20 PM.png

The system, which was tested on a group of students, offers a variety of ways to climb while also collecting a considerable range of data that can be used by future participants. New ‘problems’ can be defined with a well-drawn path or a handprint mark, if you don’t want to make it look like you’re on the bunny slope. The system offers video replay, which is perfect for reflecting upon and improving one’s own technique.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.30.05 PM.png

Additionally, fun animations that react to the borders of your body — the designers used an animated chainsaw — can make the experience into more of a game.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.30.34 PM.png

For the time being, the technology limits the researchers to a bouldering wall, which is about 4m high. Though one of the benefits mentioned by the researchers is maximizing the bouldering wall’s capacity, in that one wall can contain multiple routes, future tracking technologies might allow this system to be usable with a wider range of walls and in actual gyms. (They are working on such an installation right now). Aside from noticing the limitations with the current Kinect, the researchers are agnostic about what technologies will serve their purposes in the future, which include the following:

1) detecting what body parts touch the holds,
2) detecting when the climber occludes
relevant projected graphics,
3) tracking COM [center of mass] (e.g., for detecting falling),
4) robust skeletal tracking of climbing moves for detailed analysis and feedback, although many interactions can be implemented only using
features 1-3.

Julia Smith, a rock-climbing enthusiast living in Las Vegas, was enthused by the project’s potential to get people in the door. “I see a lot of birthday parties in climbing gyms, for example, and there are a lot of games they could play using [these elements],” she said. “I can also see how augmented climbing could be used by more experienced climbers for training purposes as well.”

[h/t] TechCrunch


Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines


Get PSFK's Related Report: Sports Debrief

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

Gaming & Play december 2, 2016

This Game Lets You Be A Pilot In The Drone Racing League

DRL Racing Simulator recreates actual courses in a virtual environment

Travel december 1, 2016

Hotel Chain Is Giving Away Its Not-So-Super Hotel Art At Art Basel

A lesson in how to advertise a kitschy-to-cool redesign in the middle of Miami Art Week

No search results found.