CompetitiveAnalysis-SallyAhn

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Contents

Restatement of the group's idea

Our application will be a personal guide for novice rock climbers that will help them get started by suggesting climbing maneuvers favorable to the user's goals for specific problems, recommending strength or flexibility exercises for achieving particular climbing moves, and enabling the user to track his progress.

Interviewing rock climbers at Ironworks and Indian Rock Park led us to change our original application idea. The original idea can be found here: Group Brainstorm

List of related applications

  1. Climbing Guide
  2. Bouldr
  3. iClimb
  4. SprayCaster
  5. Climber
  6. Vertical Progression
  7. Army Climbing
  8. Knots for Climbing
  9. Rock Climbing Dictionary
  10. GPS Rock Climbing Guide

Analysis

Climbing Guide

Climbing Guide targets a user group of rock climbers "beginners and experts alike." This is a larger target group than that of our proposed application, which doesn't include expert climbers. Climbing Guide offers numerous features, such as a database of guides and "beta" (rock climbing advice) for more than 500 routes and problems, logging to track one's progress, conversion of ratings from one system to another, reference of climbing terms, and power/endurance workouts.

One drawback that I noticed about Climbing Guide was that it offers a lot of breadth but lacks the depth of information. Some reviewers have mentioned that the provided guides are not as detailed as the paper guidebooks that are readily available at the site. This is especially adverse for beginners because they have a hard time visualizing how they should position their body on the wall, even with the aid of guides. Our application will enable these new climbers to find a maneuver that can solve a specific configuration of handholds and footholds, which the user visually specifies on the touch screen; with this input, our application will match it with a similar configuration that have been solved already and present a visual (a photograph or a figure diagram) of that maneuver. This allows the user to instantly understand and learn new climbing moves that may have been impossible for them to imagine on their own. Rock climbers often learn by simply observing how other climbers solve a problem (for example, by twisting a certain way rather than reaching), and our application will allow our users to make such observations at any time.

Moreover, the workouts that Climbing Guide offer lack the customization that our application will have. Although Climbing Guide offers general workouts for staying in shape, our application will suggest workouts or exercises that will train the user for a particular maneuver he cannot achieve due to lack of strength or flexibility. Well-conditioned, expert climbers are less likely to encounter this problem, but it is a fairly common challenge for new climbers.

Bouldr

Bouldr is an application for rock climbers that not only provides information for the user, but also tries to build a guidebook from users' feedback. The latter aspect of this application is not well-suited to our target group of beginner climbers. However, Bouldr still provides many useful features, such as location-based mapping of nearby rock climbing sites, ability to view the route on an image of the climbing surface, and sharing information with other climbers. Although these features are nice for any rock climber to have, they are not as crucial for beginning rock climbers. For example, most beginning rock climbers will be going to indoor climbing gyms, where the routes are already marked on the walls. This application does provide a cleaner and more distinct presentation of the route, but for indoor gyms, this feature is not as crucial. Collaborating with other climbers may be helpful for beginners, but the application would lack control over the quality and amount of such information. The mapping feature may be useful, but again, it is not a crucial need that is specific for beginning rock climbers; just one or two locations may be enough, and of course, such locations can easily be found online. The main focus of this application seem to be developing a guidebook with feedback from users rather than providing guide for beginning climbers.

iClimb

The target user group for iClimb is rock climbers who want to track and analyze their progress. Our application also targets rock climbers, but more specifically, beginning rock climbers who need climbing guidance. The main functionality iClimb provides is tracking and analyzing one's progress in rock climbing. It is designed to enable the user to analyze his climbing experiences, which he may use to prepare for and enhance his next climbing attempts. Although it targets rock climbers, iClimb is essentially a logging and graphing tool that doesn't address the needs that are specific to rock climbers. Our application will provide beginning climbers with much more detailed rock climbing advice. Rather than simply providing the data for the user to analyze himself, our application will perform the analysis itself in order to provide the user with proper guidance (for example, after the user records a maneuver he failed to achieve, our application will suggest strength exercises for the muscles required for making that maneuver).

While iClimb would be useful for experienced climbers who are trying to improve their performance, it offers little to beginning climbers who do not have much (or any) experience to analyze yet. Moreover, beginning climbers may not know enough about the sport of rock climbing to analyze the data presented by this application. Nevertheless, tracking one's progress is important for any climber seeking to improve, so our application will also enable this functionality. The interface for logging seems simple and straightforward. However, one reviewer for iClimb requested the ability to store photos of the route being recorded. This would be a nice option to add to our application's log; an image of the route may enable the user to instantly recall the key features of that route.

SprayCaster

SprayCaster is another logging application that targets rock climbers. It also targets the general rock climbing group while our application focuses on beginners. Like iClimb, SprayCaster allows climbers to track their rock climbing workouts according to its difficulty. However, it does not offer tools for analyzing those records; it is a simplified version of iClimb. Nevertheless, this simplicity makes the interface very simple and straightforward. However, all of the navigation seems to be text-based. As discussed above in the analysis for iClimb, we may incorporate photos for each recorded climb to help jog the user's memory.

Climber

This is yet another logging application for all rock climbers. The functionality that sets it apart is synchronization with 8a.nu, a web database. This application also allows the user to track more details than some of the previous logging applications (for example, the grade, sector, and crag). It also supports many grade systems and provides support for several languages. Adopting the storage of additional details for recorded routes and adding support for other grade systems and languages are definitely features that we may considering adding to our application, since these features affect beginning rock climbers as well. However, I think that the 8a.nu synchronization may be a feature that is beyond the scope of our target audience; many will probably not even be aware that this database even exists. I think our application should focus on addressing more pressing needs the novice climber faces, which were described above. One thing I liked about the interface for this application was the option it provides for grouping the records according to grade or crag of the route, rather than just by date. Again, this application lacks photos of the various routes, which could greatly enhance the user experience.

Vertical Progression

This application, which targets rock climbers, is another log and analysis tool. It tracks the user's rock climbing performance by recording the success and failures for the user's usual routes and presents the data as a bar graph. Thus, it is a very limited logging application that stores minimum detail about the routes themselves. This application does not offer additional functionalities from the ones we have seen already. It does, however, offer an interesting interface, which is that the user views the bar graph presentation of the data by simply turning the iPhone to landscape mode. Although this is a unique approach, I do not see the advantage of this interface. Viewing the graph by standard button-based navigation is not a cumbersome task, and the orientation-based method may be more frustrating because users can easily turn his device by accident.

Army Climbing

The target group for this application is mountaineers. Hence, it differs from our user group of beginning rock climbers, who are highly unlikely to attempt to climb outdoors. Moreover, the functionalities this application provides are very limited; it is basically a reference manual for traversing mountainous terrain. Nevertheless, it does offer information on subjects related to climbing (such as "Rope Management and Knots"). However, it is still a very basic application that simply offers text and images that could be obtained by other means. This contrasts with our application, which will find a solution specifically for the physical problem the climber is facing at that moment. The usability of the interface design is unremarkable; it is basically an e-book of topics that are somewhat relevant to rock climbing.

Climbing Knots

This application targets climbers who may need assistance with tying knots for climbing. Beginner climbers are much more likely to need help with tying knots than expert climbers, so this application's target user group are similar to our own. However, there is obviously much more to learn to rock climbing than just tying knots. This application provides a single specific type of guidance to our target group that may not even be needed (many beginner climbers start out by bouldering, which requires no ropes at all). Nevertheless, I liked the interface design of this application. It provides clear, step-by-step diagrams along with directions for tying 15 knots used in climbing. Positive reviews praise the clean and easy-to-understand graphics, which we should take into consideration when designing our own application.

Rock Climbing Dictionary

This application targets rock climbers, probably more for beginner rock climbers than experts, which coincides with our own target user group. As the name implies, the functionality this application provides is simple: it is a glossary of terms related to rock climbing. It allows the user to search a database of these terms, and it would certainly be beneficial for novice climbers (for example, they may encounter the name of an unfamiliar maneuver while looking reading a guide). It is a simple application with basic interface for searching a keyword. It would be good feature to add to our application, since beginners may not be familiar with rock climbing jargon.

GPS Rock Climbing Guide

This is another mapping tool geared specifically for rock climbers. As mentioned before, our target user group consisting of beginning climbers are less likely than expert climbers to be searching for new climbing sites. Locating nearby climbing sites was a feature offered by a more comprehensive application like Bouldr. Moreover, the reviews for this application have been negative. The application simply links to GoogleMaps, which is accessible on the iPhone already. The interface design is also reflects vast room for improvement. Although it targets a similar user group, I do not think we can extract much useful aspects for our own application from this application.

Summary

Most of the applications I have reviewed seem to focus on logging the user's rock climbing experiences. Logging previous climbs is a key feature that many rock climbers seem to desire, but it does not address the specific needs of a novice climber. Specifically, the problem of visualizing a solution on the wall of scattered handholds and footholds is much more difficult for a beginning climber. Lacking the repertoire of various maneuvers, the beginning climber may have no idea how to position their body for a particular configuration of handholds and footholds. While many climbers enjoy this problem solving aspect, a beginner may need extra guidance to get started. Without any guidance, the first-time climber may not be able to proceed on the route at all, which could add unnecessary frustrations and significantly slow down his advancement in the new sport.

After reviewing these applications, I realized that Climbing Guide offers the most functionalities and stands as our strongest competitor. Although our application does not offer functionalities like conversion of rating systems or a reference of climbing terms (although this seems like a simple but useful feature we may consider adding) that Climbing Guide offers, our application offers customized guidance specific to the climbing problem that is stumping the user at that moment. To elaborate, the user will be able to take a photo of the wall, mark the locations of the handholds and footholds, and the application will search through a database of solved problems to find a similar configuration of handholds and footholds along with a visual image of how it had been solved.

Another problem beginning climbers face is failing to achieve a required maneuver simply due to lack of strength/flexibility. Our application will respond to this need by suggesting appropriate workouts and stretches to train the user for that specific move (for example, if it requires more arm strength, it will recommend arm workouts). Moreover, there are multiple ways to solve a problem in rock climbing, and choosing the most optimal moves is not always obvious, especially to beginning climbers. For example, the climber may want to conserve strength in order to climb higher in which case he would want to pick the "easiest" move; or, he may want to work on developing more arm strength, so he may want to perform moves that require more arm strength. Therefore, our application would also rank the solution moves in accordance with the user's current goals. In short, our application will be a guide that new rock climbers can personalize to meet their needs. This customizability and the aforementioned solution search feature are both unique aspects that I did not find in any of the potential competitors for our application.



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