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Halo Holds

Project active

Winter 2017 - Spring 2019


There are limited indoor rock climbing routes and they require costly maintenance to update on a regular basis. Additionally, rock climbing has a barrier to entry because it can be challenging for beginner climbers to understand techniques and routes.

Touch-sensitive, light-up indoor rock wall holds that can be controlled via a tablet application.



Halo Holds allows indoor climbers to create and change climbing routes instantly through a tablet application. Instead of being limited to routes created by gym employees, climbing gym members can use their creativity to create their own routes on demand, all at the touch of a button. In addition, Halo Holds offers climbing gyms a vast amount of data concerning their member's favorite routes which allows them to generate more revenue and improve member retention.

halo holds1.png
halo holds1.png

A climber can use the Halo Holds tablet application to choose from a selection of previously created routes or create their own, seeing the route previewed on the tablet screen. Once selected, the holds included in the route would light up on the rock wall in front of the climber. The application could then track whether a climber completed or failed the route. Halo Holds also gives an opportunity for gamification in the rock climbing world. Mini games and challenges can help climbers improve technique and bring in new novice climbers in an inviting manner.

Current Progress

We currently have a 64 square foot, performance-ready bouldering wall complete with 20 clear, polyurethane holds that light up through an LED ring. The rings are controlled by an Arduino that communicates with an Android tablet app.

halo holds3.png
halo holds2.png

The app contains a simple UI that allows the user to select from a preset list of routes or create their own, displaying a preview of the holds included in the route on the bouldering wall. The same holds would then light up in front of the user and the route would be ready to climb. In addition, the color of the holds could be changed and a “time-attack” mini game can be played.

The Halo Holds team has competed at several competitions and amassed over $20,000 in cash prizes. Halo Holds won the 2018 OSU Next Great Startup Competition and won prizes for People's Choice and Best Prototype at the 2018 InventOregon Intercollegiate competition.


The Halo Holds team showing off their winnings at the 2018 InventOregon competition

Future Goals

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We have performed additional research in order to create a capacitive sensing system for the holds, allowing them to light up and respond to touch. An Electrical Engineering Senior Capstone team at OSU also conducted research for creating an I2C electrical communication system for efficiently controlling the holds. One of our future goals would be to build on this research and implement it within the Halo Holds project, which would allow for more "mini-game" capabilities.

halo holds3.png

Tim Slama working on the Halo Holds business model at InventOregon

Another aspect that we would like to include in the future would be a cloud application on which every climber has their own profile. The app would use machine learning algorithms to assess the climber's ability by comparing the climber's success on a route to the route's difficultly. The algorithm would take into account completing or failing the route, and also the specific holds at which the climber failed. The difficulty of the route would be determined based on how often the route was completed across the climbing gym's members.

Prototype Sneak Peek

Prototype Sneak Peek

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