Finnish computer scientists created an indoor rock climbing wall that has an interactive surface - and one of its tricks is quite "shocking."
This smart setup, which doesn't require donning any sensors, challenges climbers at their edge.
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The Augmented Climbing Wall was developed by a team from Aalto University in Espoo, Finland. Their rope-less setup works with a ceiling-mounted projector and a camera system that has full-body motion tracking capabilities. Graphics are projected onto the bouldering wall, guiding climbers to holds. Climbers can browse through games and difficulty levels on a touchscreen computer near the wall.
The system can teach rock climbing techniques to beginners or challenge climbers to games like Spark, where the goal is to climb from beginning to end while avoiding moving "electricity lines." An earlier interaction had climbers avoiding animated chainsaw blades, but it was unclear whether they could touch the chainsaw handle, and the shape was limiting.
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Another game, called Whack-a-Bat, projects a bat onto a hold that will fly to a different, random location as soon as the climber touches it. The climber has to touch the bat before a timer runs out. Special software detects the climber's position so bats never overlap with the body. As the game goes on, more bats appear, making it harder.
The wall has been in development for several years, but this version has actually been installed at a real commercial climbing center in Finland. Hundreds of climbers, including kids and adults, have tried it out.
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"The system has been received well," the researchers wrote in a paper describing the wall. They added that the Spark game was even used for a route - also known as "a problem" in climbing parlance - in a bouldering competition last year.
The team, led by post-doctoral computer science researcher and avid climber Raine Kajastila, presented the wall recently at CHI 2016 in San Jose, where they received an honorable mention for best paper. See the Augmented Climbing Wall in action here: