Conference PaperPDF Available

UbiMount -Ubiquitous Computing in the Mountains

  • University of St.Gallen


Mobile and wearable computing has great potential to support alpine outdoor sport activities. This includes, but is not limited to, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, paraglid-ing, and skiing. Interestingly, technology for tracking, monitoring and supporting sport activities is broadly used in sports like running or cycling, but has not reached the top of the mountains yet. Nevertheless, such technologies could support people in many mountain scenarios such as activity tracking, navigation, or emergency support. Technologies and applications for mountaineers can learn from ubiquitous computing research in many ways to provide more joyful, motivating and safer outdoor experiences. This workshop addresses the promises and challenges that arise, when UbiComp technologies are applied to alpine activities. During this two day workshop the participants will present their positions and research, followed by a hands-on experience on current technology during a field trip.
UbiMount - Ubiquitous Computing in
the Mountains
Florian Daiber
DFKI, Computer Science
Campus Saarland
Saarbrücken, Germany
Johannes Schöning
Expertise Ctr. for Digital Media
Hasselt University
Diepenbeek, Belgium
Keith Cheverst
Lancaster University
Lancaster, UK
Jonna Häkkilä
University of Lapland
Rovaniemi, Finland
Massimo Zancanaro
Fondazione Bruno Kessler
University of Trento
Trento, Italy
Cassim Lahda
Institute of Neuroscience
Newcastle University
Newcastle, UK
Felix Kosmalla
DFKI, Computer Science
Campus Saarland
Saarbrücken, Germany
Frederik Wiehr
DFKI, Computer Science
Campus Saarland
Saarbrücken, Germany
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Mobile and wearable computing has great potential to sup-
port alpine outdoor sport activities. This includes, but is not
limited to, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, paraglid-
ing, and skiing. Interestingly, technology for tracking, mon-
itoring and supporting sport activities is broadly used in
sports like running or cycling, but has not reached the top of
the mountains yet. Nevertheless, such technologies could
support people in many mountain scenarios such as activity
tracking, navigation, or emergency support. Technologies
and applications for mountaineers can learn from ubiquitous
computing research in many ways to provide more joyful,
motivating and safer outdoor experiences. This workshop
addresses the promises and challenges that arise, when
UbiComp technologies are applied to alpine activities. Dur-
ing this two day workshop the participants will present their
positions and research, followed by a hands-on experience
on current technology during a field trip.
Author Keywords
Alpine sports; outdoor activities; sports technologies; tech-
nology acceptance; activity tracking; wearable computing.
ACM Classification Keywords
H.1.2 [User/Machine Systems]: Human factors; H.5.m [In-
formation interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI)]: Miscella-
Mobile and wearable computing has great potential to sup-
port alpine outdoor sports (e.g. rock climbing, mountaineer-
ing, hiking, paragliding, mountain biking and cross-country
or downhill skiing). Activities in the mountains depend on
various factors (e.g. route difficulty, access, remoteness,
and weather conditions) that require fitness, experience,
and planning. The use of technology can be beneficial in
numerous ways: It can be used as an assistive system for
the mountaineer or climber (e.g. a digital instructor or a nav-
igation aid), as an additional safety measure (e.g. a real-
time weather monitor for paragliders), or as a training tool
(e.g. an activity tracker for cross-country skiers).
Although sports like hiking, running and biking received a
lot of attention in research, alpine sports were, to a cer-
tain extent, neglected. Some work exists that addresses
sports tracking, assistive systems, games & play and train-
ing. There is a vast corpus on related work in the area of
supporting people while navigating in outdoor enviroments
e.g. as described in [8]. New interaction technology can be
used to bring people to defined places to enjoy the same
experiences [2] or to facilitate solitude by providing guid-
ance on how to avoid other people [7]. Sports tracking [1],
for example, has been suggested for climbing [4, 5, 6] and
backcountry skiing [3]. The relation of performance and
experience of sports watch usage has been studied in run-
ners [9] indicating that wearable technology can improve
both performance and the experience.
These examples show that several research groups in the
UbiComp and HCI community already started to explore
the challenges when applying technologies to mountain
sports. In our workshop we want to bring them together
for the first time. The Workshop on “Ubiquitous Computing
in the Mountains” aims to provide an interactive forum to
discuss the challenges that appear when UbiComp tech-
nologies are applied to activities in the mountains. Some of
these challenges are finding a good balance between the
beneficial use of technology without distracting the users
from their nature experience, the application and adaption
of already manifested interaction techniques to the moun-
taineering domain, or the design of unobtrusive body worn
devices which do not hinder the user in pursuing their out-
door activities. We believe that the workshop is very inter-
esting for the UbiComp community, since the results will
also inform other application domains (e.g. ubiquitous com-
puting in health and wellbeing).
Topics and Goals of the Workshop
Submissions for the workshop could address but are not
limited to the following topics:
Design & implementation of (ambient) assistive real-
time systems and the adequate use of notifications
Social acceptance of technology use in alpine ac-
Novel navigation systems, tailored for the special
needs in mountaineering or climbing
Systems that enable disabled or impaired people to
pursue outdoor activities
Emergency or quick response systems for e.g. moun-
tain rescue
Tools and methods for movement analysis
Design and analysis of gamification components in
climbing or mountaineering, e.g. for training or moti-
Interaction techniques for motor skills learning
Wearable computing technologies for mountaineers
This workshop aims to bring together researchers from
academia and industry (e.g. sports technologies, tourism,
natural resources) to discuss and share their research, ex-
perience and insight. We welcome participants working with
user research, ethnography, design, prototyping, or eval-
uation and want to facilitate a multidisciplinary approach
throughout the workshop.
As stated above, mountaineering and climbing is still in
an early stage in the UbiComp and HCI community. The
higher level goal of this workshop is to lay the foundation of
a growing research community, pursuing UbiComp and HCI
in the mountains. For this, the most important goal of this
workshop is, 1) to gather together researchers who address
the several factors in mountain acitivties in their work, to
build a network among these people. The additional goals
of this workshop are 2) to identify and discuss the chal-
lenges of current research and how to tackle them, and 3)
promote the research of UbiComp technology usage in the
mountains, and discuss the promises and risks related to
the topic. Finally the workshop should 4) give hands on ex-
perience of current and future UbiComp technologies which
can leverage the area of mountaineering and climbing.
Workshop Organization
Pre-Workshop Plan
The call for the workshop will be distributed in HCI and Ubi-
Comp related emailing lists. A flyer will be designed and
distributed at HCI venues, and we will advertise the work-
shop at e.g. CHI, NatureCHI, DIS, PerDis and among key
research groups. The important dates associated with the
workshop’s organization are as follows:
Distribution of CfP: May 5, 2016
Submission deadline for workshop papers: June 3,
Notification of acceptance: June 24, 2016
Deadline for camera ready version of research pa-
pers to include in the ACM DL: July 1, 2016
Workshop Structure
The workshop is organized as a two-day workshop. It will
consist of workshop paper presentations, discussions,
group exercises and an optional field trip to a climbing spot
or a hike (depending on the the weather) in Heidelberg.
On the first day the position papers of the participants are
presented in a condensed format (max. 5 min). In prepa-
ration for the field trip on the second day the technologies
provided by the organizers (including wearable technolo-
gies, 3D scanner and cameras, software systems, and also
drones) are introduced. After forming groups, the partici-
pants get hands-on experience during group-projects with
the provided technology. The first day concludes with a joint
workshop dinner.
The field trip takes place in the “Riesenstein” area, a crag
close to the old town of Heidelberg (approx. 30 min walk
from the conference venue). During the field trip, the par-
ticipants explore the technologies and projects they pre-
pared on the first day while climbing, bouldering, or hiking.
The aim of this field trip is to foster the creation of research
ideas for future projects. In case of bad weather, the prac-
tical part could take place in the “Boulderhaus” Heidelberg,
an indoor climbing gym or in the form of a hike in the hills
around Heidelberg. After returning to the conference venue,
the groups present their experiences of the field trip.
A lecture room for ca. 30 people is required for the work-
shop. The estimated number of workshop participants is
around 12-18 people. Each participant will contribute to the
workshop with a position or research paper (4 pages in CHI
EA format). Research papers will be included in the ACM
digital library. Submissions should contain a distinct position
on research or design work within the scope of ubiquitous
mountaineering and climbing technologies. The submis-
sions will be reviewed by the organizers and the workshop
program committee. The selection of participants is based
on the reviews. We are aiming for a good balance of differ-
ent perspectives on the workshop topic.
Post-Workshop Plan
During the workshop we will collect data (e.g. raw sensor
data, video footage of the field trip, feedback from the par-
ticipants) that will be analyzed after the workshop. We will
apply to have a summary article for the ACM Interactions
Magazine. Futhermore, we will also reach out to the alpine
sports community by writing an article for an alpine sports
magazine. In this article we will present the current state
of research, reflecting on the predictions parts of the work-
shop organizers made in 2007 (, and
update our vision for mountaineering in the next decade.
Organizers’ Backgrounds
Florian Daiber is a post-doctoral researcher at the Ger-
man Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). His
main research is in the field of human-computer interaction,
3D user interfaces and wearable computing with a strong
interest in wearable sports technologies.
Keith Cheverst is a reader with the School of Computing
and Communications, Lancaster University. A significant
focus of his research over the last 20 years has centered on
the design and deployment of mobile systems that provide
support for locative media experiences and wayfinding in
both rural and urban settings.
Johannes Schöning is a professor of computer science
at Hasselt University working at the Expertise centre for
Digital Media (EDM). His main research interests lie at the
intersection between human-computer interaction (HCI),
geographic information science and ubiquitous interface
Jonna Häkkilä is a professor at Faculty of Art and De-
sign, University of Lapland. Her research interests include
mobile and ubiquitous interaction and user experience de-
sign, and user studies in-the-wild. Currently she is working
e.g. on using natural materials for tangible interactions and
HCI in the nature.
Massimo Zancanaro is the head of the i3-Intelligent In-
terfaces and Interaction research unit at Fondazione Bruno
Kessler (FBK). His primary interest is in the field of Intelli-
gent Interfaces particularly in the area of co-located collab-
orative systems. He teaches Computer-Human Interaction
and Graphical User Interfaces Programming at the Univer-
sity of Trento.
Frederik Wiehr & Felix Kosmalla are researchers at
the DFKI and the founders of climbtrack, a startup aiming
to create assistive technologies for climbing. With the be-
taCube, they recently won the Cebit Innovation Award 2016
( Their research is concerned about ex-
tracting higher-level information from sensors and devices
to give individual meaningful assistance, enhancing learn-
ing and improving social interaction in sports.
Cassim Lahda is a bio-medical engineer with a strong in-
terest and over 15 years experiance in technology develop-
ment for both animal and human health applications. He is
an invited associate researcher at Institute of Neuroscience,
Newcastle University and CEO of a consulting thinktank,
Cascom Ltd.
1. Aino Ahtinen, Minna Isomursu, Ykä Huhtala, Jussi
Kaasinen, Jukka Salminen, and Jonna Häkkilä. 2008.
Tracking Outdoor Sports User Experience
Perspective. In Proceedings of the European
Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI ’08).
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2. Keith Cheverst, Trien V. Do, and Dan Fitton. 2015.
Supporting the Mobile In-situ Authoring of Locative
Media in Rural Places: Design and Expert Evaluation
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3. Anton Fedosov and Marc Langheinrich. 2015. From
Start to Finish: Understanding Group Sharing Behavior
in a Backcountry Skiing Community. In Proceedings of
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Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services Adjunct
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4. Raine Kajastila and Perttu Hämäläinen. 2014.
Augmented Climbing: Interacting with Projected
Graphics on a Climbing Wall. In CHI ’14 Extended
Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems
(CHI EA ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1279–1284.
5. Felix Kosmalla, Florian Daiber, and Antonio Krüger.
2015. ClimbSense: Automatic Climbing Route
Recognition Using Wrist-worn Inertia Measurement
Units. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
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6. Cassim Ladha, Nils Y. Hammerla, Patrick Olivier, and
Thomas Plötz. 2013. ClimbAX: Skill Assessment for
Climbing Enthusiasts. In Proceedings of the 2013 ACM
International Joint Conference on Pervasive and
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7. Maaret Posti, Johannes Schöning, and Jonna Häkkilä.
2014. Unexpected Journeys with the HOBBIT: The
Design and Evaluation of an Asocial Hiking App. In
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8. Johannes Schöning, Antonio Krüger, Keith Cheverst,
Michael Rohs, Markus Löchtefeld, and Faisal Taher.
2009. PhotoMap: Using Spontaneously Taken Images
of Public Maps for Pedestrian Navigation Tasks on
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  • Springer-Verlag
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 192–209. DOI: