Augmented Reality Meets Climbing


There’s a new trend in combining digital technology with the real world, what some like to call augmented reality. While climbing gyms are not known for being very high tech, a few gyms have started playing with tools that allows climbers to interact with the digital world.

At a recent climbing competition in Germany, competitors took on a special quest: navigating a real-life game of Super Mario Bros. Competitors hopped across tiny, slanted footholds, leapt over pipes, and evaded Bullet Bill in order to physically re-create Mario’s journey.

The Mario Bros obstacle course was the final round in a larger one-year anniversary climbing competition and party at the famous Stuntwerk bouldering gym in Cologne.

Over in Somerville, Massachusetts, a neighborhood near Boston, a climber and amateur coder has created an entire gaming system, called Randori, that turns a climbing wall into a real-life video game. The game projects a series of white light dots on the wall. When the timer starts, the player uses whatever climbing holds they want to touch the dots and earn points. Visual and audio cues help the players know when they’ve earned points, and the system keeps track of and projects players’ time on the wall.

Jon Cheng, creator of the game, told Wired that he is already thinking about his next digital climbing game. “I’ve also fantasized about building a Flappy Bird-style game for climbers,” he says. “I think that could be really fun.”