Led by Professor Franz Konstantin ‘Tino’ Fuss, this sports engineering feature project has run continuously since 2002, when Professor Tino Fuss started pioneering the area of smart equipment in sport. Since then, the research into this field has resulted in 40 publications and several keynote lectures.  

Prof Fuss and his former PhD student, Dr G. Niegl, a professional climber, put force transducers into climbing holds and extracted the load applied to handholds during 2 climbing competitions in Singapore in 2002 (national championship and World Cup). The data served for the development of a performance index, calculated from the force-time data.  

Modular experimental smart hold with exchangeable surfaces (grippy, slippery, rough, smooth) for measurement of the coefficient of friction between hand and surface.
This research has since expanded to associated areas such as:  
  • friction between hand and hold 
  • measurement of the difficulty of a climbing route 
  • mechanics of rope brakes 
  • double-handed dynamic moves 
  • dynamics of speed climbing 
  • IRCRA scale for route grading 
  • perception of hold surfaces, and 
  • smart wearable technology for measurement of the heart rate when speed climbing.  

Our most recent study revealed that climbers assess the surface of a hold implicitly based on its slip resistance but not on its roughness.  

We are currently working on affordable but accurate instrumentation of handholds for climbing gyms, in collaboration with the University of Canterbury.  

Force vector diagrams superimposed on a smart climbing wall instrumented with eight 6DOF force/moment sensors.

Project timeframe 


Project team

  • CDI Project- Rock-Climbing SpeedHR
    15 m speed climbing wall and heart rate profiles during speed climbing.
  • CDI_Project5_Rock-Climbing-WC2002
    Ladies’ Quarter Final of the 2002 Climbing World Cup in Singapore, with a smart hold for measurement of grip force data during climbing.
  • CDI Project - Rock Climbing Vector Diagram
    Force vector diagrams of the 2 climbers shown in previous image.

Project partners

This project is partnered with: 

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We always welcome new partners. If you are interested in transforming ideas into commercially competitive outcomes, need the support of our research or have any other queries, contact us on +61 3 9214 6072 or email cdiadmin@swinburne.edu.au.

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