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Climbing Challenge: Gamification in a climbing gym

The Aranea+ climbing gym in Schaffhausen introduces the innovative Climbing Challenge, which allows sport climbers to record their performances, collect points and compete against each other. The system, developed by the ZHAW, uses wireless RFID technology.

At the Aranea+ climbing gym in Schaffhausen, sport climbing has recently gained an exciting added dimension. The new Climbing Challenge system allows climbers to collect points by completing various routes. The walls have been equipped with sensors and the climbers wear wristbands with a badge that registers and evaluates the routes they complete. They can check and compare their scores at touch screens set up in the gym. The tasks include several routes that have to be climbed in certain ways. “With the new system, we can offer our customers added value and host exciting competitions”, says Pascal Parodi, manager of Aranea+ and initiator of the Climbing Challenge. The system is based on the principle of gamification, i.e. the integration of game-design elements in non-game contexts to create greater excitement and motivation. The project was realised with support from the Institute of Business Information Technology (IWI) at the ZHAW School of Management and Law and with products from the German manufacturer Sportident.

Lean and intensive development phase

Parodi presented his idea to Alexandre de Spindler, head of the Centre for Information Systems at the ZHAW, in late summer 2015. “We were excited about the idea from the beginning, but it still needed quite a lot of work”, says ZHAW project leader Adrian Moser, who developed the system with two interns, Fabio Büsser and Timon Schneider. The ZHAW team was soon convinced that a suitable system could be developed with the help of RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology. This technology allows people or objects equipped with a chip to be identified and localised by means of radio waves. At first, however, it was unclear whether any suitable RFID readers and writers were available for this purpose and how the hardware could be connected to the software that was still to be developed. The researchers decided to use a rapid prototyping approach: with relatively little investment and within a short time, they were able to create a prototype which, after extensive testing, became the basis for further development. They found an industry partner in Sportident, which provided several compact RFID devices that could easily be mounted to the climbing wall, as well as badges that could be worn on the wrist. Only a few months later, in December 2015, they were able to carry out the first successful demonstration. This allowed any uncertainties to be removed at an early stage so that the development process could continue. The final tests with climbers took place in July and August 2016 and the system was put into operation on 3 September.


Ideal for team events

The Climbing Challenge is especially suitable as an activity for clubs, companies and schools, as the system allows teams to compete against each another and to collect points together. When they return the RFID badges, participants can request a certificate in printed or electronic form. Finally, the Climbing Challenge information system includes a ranking function and a history of all completed climbs, allowing participants to compare their own performances across any period of time.


Opening event

Aranea+ celebrated the opening of the modified climbing gym and the new bistro and presented the Climbing Challenge on 3 September 2016. Entry to the event was free and members of the public were able to test the new system free of charge.


ZHAW School of Management and Law, Institute of Business Information Technology,
Adrian Moser, Telefon 058 934 66 92, E-Mail:

Aranea+ Klettern & Badminton
Pascal Parodi, Geschäftsführer Aranea+, Telefon 052 620 12 90, E-Mail:

Media Relations
ZHAW School of Management and Law, Communications, Adrian Sulzer,
Telefon 058 934 66 63, E-Mail: