A Mountain Goat-Inspired Prosthetic Leg for Rock Climbing

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 30 2014 4:13 PM

A Mountain Goat-Inspired Prosthetic Leg for Rock Climbing

rockclimbing1
Klippa's design was inspired by hooves and informed by tester feedback.

Image from Behance.

There are certain things we have to do every day, like eating. But for physical and mental health, it's just as important to be able to do things that we want to do. And specialized prosthetics allow amputees to do the specific stuff. If you have one arm and want to play the drums, you can do it. And if you have one leg and want to go rock climbing ... you can do it.

Well, hopefully soon, that is. Klippa is a prototyped leg prosthetic created specifically for climbing. Its design draws on the way mountain goat hooves provide traction, grip, stability, and concentrated force for the body they're supporting. And Brooklyn-based designer Kai Lin used two-legged climbers to test numerous iterations of "feet" to determine whether they were helpful or a hindrance for the sport.

According to his Behance page, Lin created Klippa for veterans who are amputees and also want a new physical challenge. But of course if Klippa came to market, it could be useful for anyone who wants a leg up. Klippa's ankle joint uses a spring and special cord to provide shock absorption and control. It has replaceable, rubber, hoof-like soles that have a pointy toe and are about half the size of human foot. Testers found that this setup gave them the most flexibility for climbing.

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Klippa isn't being produced yet, but the research and technology behind the design seem ripe for testing by anyone who would rather be climbing than playing the drums.

rockclimbing2
Klippa in action.

Image from Behance.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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