MFA Advanced Product Design | Umeå Institute of Design
2016 | 2 weeks project | in collaboration with André Kennedy (IxD), Christoph Zobl (IxD) & Franziska Heuck (APD)
In Rock Climbing, like many sports, technique is key. It is equally if not more important than physical strength.
In order to train, a climber needs to find a route in the gym that offers what it is they wish to train and fits their level of difficulty. This gives climbers no control, as no gym will ever be big enough to offer such a variety of climbs at every person's level.
Further, unless you are climbing with an experienced climber, there are few ways of getting feedback.
In regular climbing halls, the paths are indicated by holds of different colors and can therefore only be used in one way. Edge creates the tracks through light instead, which makes it possible to create paths that suit every climber's difficulty level and training demands.
Moreover, Edge guides you through sounds and vibrations: Specifically designed training bands around wrists and ankles start to vibrate when the respective leg or arm has to be moved.
How can a climbing wall teach you the right technique?
Guiding the user
Setting routes through light, sound and vibration
Adapting to skill level through light
Indication to shift weight and switch feet through light, sound and vibration
Interface - start training here!
Intelligent climbing computerAn intelligent app tracks the personal development of each user and creates tracks and tasks according to their training needs. The tracks also depend on the climber's size to make sure that the holds are not too easy or hard to grap. Therefore each climber will be measured when they create a profile.
Moreover the device provides training statistics to the climber.
Analysing the route before the climb
Test: Guiding through sound
Whilst Chris is playing a sound from a mobile phone, André and me have our eyes closed and point in the direction of the sound. Most of the times the pointing was quite accurate.
Test: Guiding through haptic feedback and light
Four muted phones are attached to Franzis wrists and ankles.
Calling one phone at a time, Franzi has to sense at which arm or leg she feels a vibration and move accordingly.
Next level: We use a laserpointer to point at the markings on the floor. Franzi now has to move the respective leg/arm where she felt the vibration to the pointed spot.
Test: Guiding through haptic feedback
Just like Franzi in the previous test, André has muted phones attached to wrists and ankles and tries to move the leg/arm of the called (=vibrating) phone. We found out that the haptic feedback also works whilst climbing.
Wizard of OZ
To make sure that the guidance is self-explaining, we invited multiple people to test our "Wizard of OZ". Without much explanation, they should do what they felt the product guides them to do.
We used different methods to guide the user: Attaching mobile phones to their arms that would vibrate, pointing at a hold with a laser pointer and playing a sound from the hold's direction whilst the user is blindfolded.
1:1 Model for the movie and presentation purposes
As a next step we built a simulating hold-prototype using a deep-drawn shell and an Ardunio board, as well as eight non-working prototypes that we mounted to the wall to climb on and film.
Moreover, we casted wristbands out of silicone.
Prototypes in action
Our goal was to be able to light up different parts of the hold.
Vibration sensor for wristband
We also programmed a vibration sensor for the silicone wristband prototype. We tested multiple types of vibration and tried to find the most subtle but still well-noticable one.
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