Kinect'ing to Wall Climbing

Today's inspirational project is another great example of how the Kinect for Windows is being used to much more than gaming and in very unique ways...

Kinect projector guides people up a climbing wall

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Can a computer help you climb a rock face? Perttu Hämäläinen of Aalto University in Finland thinks so.

Hämäläinen is interested in using augmented reality in sports, particularly ones in which fluid body movement is key, such as contemporary dance, trampoline, martial arts and rock climbing.

In a system that he developed with his colleague Raine Kajastila, a projector, a depth-sensing camera and computer software combine to track the movement of rock climbers on a training wall, and provide feedback and suggestions in real time.

Training walls, found in many gyms around the world, are covered in arrays of differently shaped and textured holds. Typically, climbers will set routes of varying difficulty by colour-coding the holds. Kajastila and Hämäläinen's system projects routes onto the wall as a glowing line, and tracks the movement of climbers as they follow it, suggesting the next move as they go.

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The team has also added a game feature, with a massive chainsaw projected onto the wall, which climbers need to avoid.

Javi Sánchez, a climbing instructor at Espacio Acción in Madrid, Spain, and director of Onsight Boulder Holds, based in Madrid, is impressed. He says the feedback system should help climbers resolve sequences faster because any mistakes a climber makes can be immediately corrected. "This is of great importance as it allows climbers to evaluate their own movements more efficiently," says Sánchez.

Kajastila says the team is working to get a prototype up and running in a real gym this autumn.

Project Information URL: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25940

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