As a rock climber who frequently hangs around a popular indoor climbing wall, I spend a lot of time watching other people climbing tricky routes and wondering, "Could I do that in the same way?"
Almost inevitably, when I try to climb the same route I'll forget exactly what sequence of holds they used and end up following a slightly different path. Even when I remember exactly which course to follow, I'll still wonder whether I'm doing it as quickly as the previous climber. Yes, I know that skill in climbing isn't all about speed, but I'm competitive like that.
That's how I decided to make a device that could record the precise route a climber follows when climbing a wall or a rock face, then play it back in such a way that another climber could follow it while climbing and, if they felt so inclined, race against it. This concept will no doubt be familiar to anyone else who grew up playing Mario Kart's time trial mode: it is a ghost.
In an ideal world, a ghost climber would be a 3D holographic recording of a climber that would then eerily haunt the rock face, replaying the climber's exact body motions and speed of progress. In our less-than-ideal world, a ghost climber can be created by accurately tracing and replaying a specific climbing route using a servomotor-controlled laser turret. That's right: in this situation a motorised laser turret is the simple
Here's the finished device in action:
And here's what it looks like while it's working its magic:
My ghost climber device, nicknamed The Redpointer
*, can be used in the following situations:
In training, for a single climber to try to beat his/her own personal best and view where on the route he/she was fastest and slowest.
In competitions, so that multiple climbers can race consecutively on the same route. This is considerably easier to arrange than creating two identical climbing routes side-by-side. It also has the advantage that it is portable enough to be set up outdoors on rock faces that cannot be duplicated.
In social climbing, to illustrate a long or complex route to a second climber without requiring the second climber to memorise it before climbing.
Any other scenario in which you wish to record and replay a path to be followed by a laser pointer. I'm not suggesting setting up illegal underground cat-racing circuits, but I can't promise that someone else won't try it...
*This is climbing humour. I'm very sorry.