Augmented reality (AR) generally exists through the lens of our smartphones as information layered on top of what the camera sees, but it doesn't have to. Developer Jon Cheng worked with an indoor climbing facility in Somerville, Massachussetts, called Brooklyn Boulders, to turn rock climbing into a real-world video game where participants compete in a time trial to hit virtual markers on the wall.
Have a look at the video below to see it in action. Instead of relying on physical sensors on the wall, the system makes the climbing wall into an interactive virtual game by projecting a course and detecting a player's movements within it.
The game works by projecting numbered markers on the wall that climbers have to tap with their hands in order to clear each one. Although Cheng doesn't detail how the technology works, a camera likely watches the scene and software tracks when a target is obscured by a human hand to designate a successful tap.
As players reach their targets, they receive audio feedback to let them know they were successful and can move onto the next marker. A rapidly ticking clock alerts the player and any onlookers to their time. When finished, a leaderboard appears with their name, time, and ranking amongst other competitors.
The game selects the targets, and participants can strategize their own path to reach them quickly. Because the game isn't dependent on sensors in the wall, the gym can easily create new and different courses as desired. It's a fun challenge, and thanks to augmented reality, that challenge can grow and change easily.
We're used to seeing augmented reality on our phones, but we have the technology to take it off the screen and project these games into our world. For those who prefer to move in actual space and skip the headsets and mobile devices, this kind of AR is a fun new way to blend worlds.