Indoor climbing is a sport that is currently trending worldwide, and for good reason; like most sports, climbing combines stamina and strength, both physical and emotional. As it happens to be, beginners today find it very tiring to master the right grips and techniques. In order to grasp the handles on climbing walls properly and to shift weight correctly, the combined efforts of an experienced trainer and endless attempts are necessary.
But what if a wall itself would be able to give the athlete individual feedback on their learning path? This “intelligent climbing wall” is the brainchild of the MACLoC research team at the Alta Scuola Politecnico in Turin and Milan. Supported by HBM and RGTech, the team has developed a climbing wall with multi-axis force transducers that are capable of identifying the climber's contact forces and calculating the center of their mass in real time. For this purpose, the multi-axis sensors were fitted with HBM strain gauges and connected to a MX840B module of the QuantumX data acquisition system from HBM.
The Role of the Force Transducer
A force sensor on each single hold that can measure the forces along the three spatial components, normalized with respect to the climber’s weight, can be the technological bridge between sport technique and body power. Especially the knowledge of the four applied forces allows plotting the position of the body’s center of mass along the path to monitor the correct distribution of load. A climbing path with 10-12-14 smart holds can be used to analyze the efficiency and the correctness of the climber’s movements.
This synthesis can be carried out substantially in two different ways: comparing the data of an amateur and a professional athlete in order to highlight the significant technical differences, or monitoring the improvements of a single climber to show which gesture or body coordination caused this improvement. As a matter of fact, different climbers on a given path will usually show a different behavior.