The First Ever Augmented Reality Climbing Wall: How It Works and Why

augmented reality climbing wall AR climbing wall video research finland
Written by Gina Smith

Check out the Augmented Reality Climbing Wall. Here’s how it works, and what its Finnish creators say they’re learning about the active, in-your-face AR of the future …

Gina-Smith-anewdomainaNewDomain — Well, this was bound to happen. Check out the video below — it’s the world’s first augmented reality climbing wall. Located in Finland, the people you see climbing the wall in the video below are actually playing a completely twisted AR version of Pong.

The augmented reality climbing wall, according to its creators, Raine Kajastila and Perttu Hämäläinen of Finland’s Aalto University, comprises a projector, a depth camera and a computer system that continually analyzes climbers movements. That system is in charge of providing feedback regarding the performance of the climbers, and it adds interesting tasks and challenges for them when they’re ready.

Scroll below the fold to find out what researchers are trying to get out of the project and what works and doesn’t work in this experiment.

But first,  the video. It really is awesome.

Kajastila and Hämäläinen created the AR climbing wall you just saw for an ongoing Aalto University research project. Working out of the school’s department of media technology, the two conceived the wall not as some potential commercial blowout success, but rather as an aid for folks who want to learn how to climb — but just don’t have the patience.

But there was a larger purpose to the research, too. In the research paper they penned (embedded in full, below) they describe a user study they ran on the wall, the goal of which was to study human-computer interaction (HCI) and whether it is possible, or even desirable, during a mentally and physically demanded task like climbing.

Why climbing?

“Climbing is a good example case of activity where giving real-time feedback is challenging because climber is high on a wall, visual focus is on the holds, and uncommon body positions prevent real-time visual feedback on a screen, say the researchers. “We aim to study how to give meaningful AFB (augmented feedback) during climbing (and other challenging activities) visually or aurally, including (analyzing center of mass (COM) body movements) and arm trajectories, projections that follow the natural focus of attention, training of specific climbing moves, and quality of movement,” they say.

The augmented climbing wall, they say, is for bouldering. That’s climbing on something close to the ground, minus ropes and harnesses, but with padding or mattresses to protect climbers who fall.

Ed: This story is still developing …

Read the researchers’ academic paper as embedded in full, below.

The Hows and Whys of The First Augmented Reality Climbing Wall [Paper] by Gina Smith on Scribd

For aNewDomain, I’m Gina Smith.