California-based Squid Labs has developed a high-tech rope that senses its own load and signals any weakness, sending the information to a handheld device well before it frays and gives way.
“Internal to the rope, inside the core, are a small proportion of conducting fibers, and as we pull on the rope, we change the structure of the braid and that changes the resistance, and that gives us the sensing capacity,” explains Saul Griffith. “As I pull down on the rope you can see it modulating the load in this prototype sensor.”
The threads can be made to be waterproof and uses for the invention could include climbing and lifting applications, rock climbing and other sports that involve ropes, optimizing sails on yachts and mooring ships.
The company is showing work at Extreme Textiles: Designing for High Performance, at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, till October 30.