Mountain & Trail News

Researchers Develop Augmented Reality System for Rock Walls

The system would allow climbers to immediately review their routes and correct mistakes.

Two researchers from Finland’s Aalto University have developed an augmented reality system that assists rock climbers in determining the best route as well as provides training feedback. The researchers, Perttu Hämäläinen and Raine Kajastila, were interested in using augmented reality in sports such as dance, martial arts, and rock climbing. So, they set out to create a system that would assist these athletes.

The tracking system uses a depth-sensing camera and computer software to follow along with the movements of each athlete, providing advice immediately. Where this system really succeeds is in its ability to track the movements of climbers, allowing them to review their routes after the climb is complete. This is especially helpful for training purposes and to compare the efficiency of different routes.

In addition to the system’s ability to suggest the next move for athletes, it incorporates games that assist climbers in advancing. For instance, there’s an image of a large chainsaw that is projected onto the wall, and climbers must quickly find alternative routes in order to avoid running into the chainsaw. This improves quick-thinking skills and allows climbers to use different muscle groups because of the strange paths they must follow.

Javi Sánchez is a climbing instructor at Espacio Acción and director of Onsight Boulder Holds in Madrid, Spain, and said the new technology is impressive. He told New Scientist that the system will help climbers improve faster, as they can immediately review their route and correct mistakes. “This is of great importance as it allows climbers to evaluate their own movements more efficiently,” he said.

The team is currently working on an updated prototype of the system so it can hopefully be used in climbing gyms as early as this fall. Check out the video below to see how the tracking system works:

Image by chrispecoraro/iStock

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