These Guys Turned A Rock Climbing Wall Into A Big Video Game

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The VP of Devil’s Advocacy

Indoor rock climbing is a pretty excellent sport. It’s great exercise, it works your brain, and you can feel yourself getting better each time you reach the top.

But once you’ve mastered the fastest/hardest/most creative routes up a given wall, that wall becomes… pretty boring. Perhaps a massive, virtual chain saw heading in your direction will liven things up a bit?

Built by a pair of augmented reality researchers in Finland, this rock wall uses a Kinect and an ultra-bright projection system to bring all sorts of new challenges into the mix.

Some things it can do:

  • Project routes, highlighting which handholds you should reach for and the most efficient path between them
  • Projected chainsaws can cut across your route, requiring you to find safe passage around them before it reaches you
  • When it detects that you’ve fallen, it can automatically play back a replay of your climb on a nearby screen.
  • A climber waiting for their turn at the base can build routes for the person currently on the wall.

The bad news? This probably won’t be coming to a climbing gym near you any time soon. While the Kinect was good enough for the proof-of-concept, the team mentions in their paper that it’s by no means optimal for their use. Built for tracking people who are standing on the ground, it tends to freak out a bit when the person it’s tracking contorts into a more complex climbing pose. They hope to build a custom tracker of their own moving forward, but that seems like a pretty steep order.

[via NewScientist]