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Better Climbing with a Virtual Mentor

A research project focused on automated movement analysis while bouldering is being funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Bouldering – that means climbing at jumping height, without a rope on the rock or in the hall. In addition to being an athletic challenge, bouldering also offers research potential – for example, when optimising your own movements. A team from the Professorship of Circuit and System Design at Chemnitz University of Technology under the direction of Dr. Julia Richter is working on this, as a part of the “Climbing with a virtual mentor through video-based movement analysis” (KliMB) cooperative project. The project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) from October 2019 until May 2021 to the tune of around 163,000 euros, is a part of the Central Innovation Programme for Medium-Sized Enterprises (ZIM). The project is now entering its first practical phase.

The aim of the “KliMB” project is to research the use of video-supported, automated movement analysis in bouldering, further develop it, and establish it in the sport of bouldering. To accomplish this, project employee Raul Beltrán Beltrán is developing methods for motion analysis and, based on this, a suitable form of feedback: “Developing a feedback system for bouldering is an exciting task. In particular, beginners can learn correct climbing techniques with the so-called ‘virtual mentor’ and avoid mistakes at these early stages,” explains Julia Richter.

The “virtual mentor” relies on cameras that can record movement in the form of so-called “point clouds” and “skeletal points”. The recorded data is then analysed via algorithm, so that system users receive useful information when bouldering via acoustic or visual feedback.

The project is supported by Dr. Guido Küstermeyer, 1992 World Cup Climbing Champion, first climber of numerous routes of the 10th and 11th difficulty levels, and sports scientist with a focus on training education. Also involved in the project is physiotherapist Moritz Neubauer, who treats the athletes of the Bundeskader Sportclimbing at international competitions, training camps and home training.

Partnering in the project is Blocz GmbH out of Chemnitz. Among other things, the company produces commercial bouldering products, from grips up to complete walls, and brings their experience into the project.

For more information, please contact Dr. Julia Richter, Professorship of Circuit and System Design, Phone: 0371 531-37933, E-mail: julia.richter@etit.tu-chemnitz.de.

(Author: Matthias Fejes / Translation: Jeffrey Karnitz)

Matthias Fejes
25.02.2020

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