ISO MULTIPITCH CLIMBING COMMUNICATOR

ISO is a device that provides multipitch climbers and their belay partners a reliable and simple communication system, integrated into their gear. This project is a collaboration between myself and an industrial designer. We worked together throughout the process of benchmarking, ideating, prototyping, coding, and sewing, to create a final prototype.


WHAT IS MULTIPITCH CLIMBING?

Multipitch climbing is the climbing of a rock face that requires multiple stops at belay stations. Each section of a climb between these belay stations is referred to as a pitch. Partners work their way up the rock face together, taking turns belaying as the other person climbs. By nature, multipitch climbing is a dangerous sport, and error in communication between climbing partners can result in serious injury or death.

Communication difficulties include inclement weather, seperation from partner, and crowded climbing areas.


UI DEVELOPMENT

The arrangement of the buttons and lights, as well as what symbols should be used to represent each command were explored in depth.

CODING WITH ARDUINO

The Lilypad Arduino is a small wearable device that can be stitched on to clothing or gear and programmed to perform simple actions. Once our UI setup was determined, we wrote the program and tested it out using jumper cables, before recreating it with conductive thread.



CREATING PROTOTYPES

Several iterations, exploring different sizes, pocket types, and functionality were created before a final pattern was chosen.


MATERIAL SELECTION

Materials such as ripstop, Cordura nylons, and webbing were selected for the final prototype.


THE SOLUTION

We created a nonverbal communication system and integrated it into a climbing sling, which is a device often used by climbers to carry necessary gear. The system uses buttons, LED lights, and a small beeper or Piezo for simple commands such as slack and take. Because miscommunication on the third command, off belay, can lead to life threatening situations, this command is differentiated from the others. A pocket opening is highlighted with a red stripe of material. Under this pocket is a pull cord, which must intentionally be pulled by the climber to send the signal to the belayer below.