Interactive Projector Could Enhance Climber Training

Augmented climbing wall from VipeInVimeo on Vimeo.

Game researches at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland are developing a system of projectors and cameras that allow for graphics to be shown on a climbing wall that may aid in routesetting and climber training.

According to Assistant Professor Perttu Hämäläinen, who is in charge of the project, the system uses HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) methods and was designed to accelerate the learning of motor skills and make the monotonous components of practice enjoyable and fun.

The system combines projected graphics on a climbing wall and body tracking software using computer vision technology.

“Due to the graphics reflected on the augmented climbing wall, the routes are easy to identify, even if the wall is full of grips. Anybody can easily create a route and split it with others. Routes created by others can be climbed independent of time – which may well improve practice motivation,” Hämäläinen told Phys.org

Postdoctoral researcher Raine Kajastila explained that the most useful features are the ability to easily create a route, the possibility for sharing and direct video feedback. “The social perspective with regard to distributing routes and the opportunity to compare one’s own performance with others were praised. The climbing testers also liked the automatic route creator and the ability of the climbing wall to create unexpected movements,” said Kajastila.

It’s hard to envision a time when this technology would be used throughout commercial climbing facilities to replace human routesetters. But as dedicated training facilities become more popular and profitable you may see projection systems become standard equipment. In fact the research testers all said that they
would use the “augmented climbing wall”, but it would be best as one separate wall in a climbing gym.

Projection systems like this could replace setting tape, route log-books, the Stick (from the stick game) and even the treadwall. These systems can also be used during kids groups and birthday parties to add a bit more high-tech fun.

For the moment though, the objective, according to the researchers, is focused on the algorithms and artificial intelligence of animation, the monitoring of body motion and the digital augmentation of physical exercise and sports. The intention is to broaden the research connected with climbing into other activities and to encourage exercise by bringing games into all forms of movement.

Read the full research paper at www.mediatech.aalto.fi

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