1. Description of the product
"Climb Beyond" is a summary for full featured service in the indoor climbing market with the goal to make this sport more attractive and enjoyable to everyone. The key product is a device that can observe any climbing route and track a climber on it. This tracking information can be re-projected by a laser beam onto the climbing wall enabling any inexperienced climber to get immediate help while being stuck on the wall. The information can also be used for later analyzing and teaching. Once installed, this product will enable visitors to get a much better climbing experience and advance further more easily.
2. Market need
Indoor climbing is a fun sport for urbanized people with a highly increasing market. Most climbing facilities are located in short distance of people's home and reachable without long traveling. Neither special background knowledge nor special physical condition is needed to just start climbing. It perfectly fits the trend of adrenalin sports where people who are stressed by daily life just want to cross the physical borders of what they are capable of. Climbing forces you to face your fear of height, your fear of falling and your fear of being secured by a thin line that is hold by second person that you have to trust. But it gives you the joy of succeeding, of reaching the top, of learning new moves, of trying more difficult routes and being better than others. The combination of these extremes makes this sport so attractive to many people.
As shown in the following figure1, climbing requires technical, physical and mental strength equally. That is one of the keys why this sport is so attractive to many people. Nevertheless most climbers fail to advance in at least one of these fields. Therefore "Climb Beyond" will help user to learn technical issues faster and feel mentally more secure.
The climbing market itself is divided into indoor and outdoor while indoor is the most attractive part for urbanized people. Furthermore the indoor market is divided into bouldering and rope climbing. "To boulder" means climbing on walls of smaller height without being secured and without any further technical equipment. "Rope climbing" allows people to climb up to a typical height of 8 to 24 meters being secured by a thin line that is held by a second person standing on the bottom. This requires specific knowledge about securing, using ropes and knots and using further optional technical security equipment. Even though rope climbing is more complicated, it is the more attractive part because if contains all the fear and joy listed above.
Many climbing instruction courses focus on rope climbing and the security issues that come along with it. Courses and prices vary on the level of difficulty and how advanced the participants are. For instructors it is a challenge to teach every single participant separately or to even show them their own capabilities.
The indoor climbing market exploded from the late 1980's to the beginning of the new millennium. Western countries like the US, UK and Germany entered a saturation phase. For the companies that operate indoor climbing facilities it gets more and more difficult to have something new exciting for the active climbers and during summer period it is even more difficult to even fill the facility with visitors [BMC03].
"Climb Beyond" addresses all these issues. It helps instructors to discuss with the participants. It allows less experienced climbers to feel more secure on the wall where they are usually lost and afraid of height whenever they do not know how to continue. And it enables operators of indoor climbing facilities making their service more attractive.
3. Description of specific characteristics
"Climb Beyond" combines state-of-the art technology to give users the real climbing experience. It helps people to enjoy climbing and facing their fear. It helps them to advance faster while saving money on instruction courses because they might not need the advanced courses anymore. Without our service, anyone who starts climbing will experience kind of a logarithmic learning curve.2 But for urbanized people a faster increase is of high interest. Therefore our service will increase the learning curve much faster in no time.
The service is easy to use, available all the time and does not cost tons of money. Extended services for accessing the tracked data allow anyone to review their own capabilities even at home. Because all the technology is put into a single small device, we can enhance any existing climbing facility by just installing the device and calibrating it to environmental conditions (point of view, light and shadow). There is no need to change anything else in the facility itself. Just the device and an Internet connection is required.
Body and movement tracking
Body recognition is a huge topic in the gaming industry. Devices like Nintendo® Wii™ and Sony® Eye-Toy™ allow players to use their body to interact freely with the game. But the real break-through was done by Microsoft® with Kinect™ for XBox360™ because it really tracks one to 4 bodies (including skeleton data) at the same time and no additional technical equipment has to be held by the player. Kinect™ is the first device that has a computing power that is high enough and a latency low enough to give the player a smooth feeling of real interaction. Ten years ago this would have been like magic but nowadays every teenager knows about that topic and feels comfortable using this technology.
These technologies are of interest for indoor climbing because they allow detailed tracking of a human body. Within indoor climbing any device that does not need to be worn on the body has a clear advantage. Therefore only Microsoft® Kinect™ is of interest. But so far Microsoft® did not publish any commercial license and the device only works up to a distance of 3.5 meters. Typically distances in indoor climbing facilities are 3 to 10 meters. This is why a different method of using two cameras in a stereoscopic mode will be used. Tracking data includes:
1 [Hoerst03]; Figure 1.1; page 5
2 [Hoerst03]; Figure 1.5; page 10