Technology on the slopes for Winter 2019

skiing-technology

As the snowbirds head south to warmer climes this month, many others are experiencing the annual exhilaration that comes with the first reports of snow from their favorite ski resorts. As a tech gadget geek and snowboard instructor for “mature beginners” (aka Grays on Trays), I fall into the latter category.

We cover so many serious enterprise issues in these blogs, so I thought it might be fun to take a short break and review how technology is touching our recreation hours as well. As with anything in technology, we sometimes innovate in recreation based on what we deploy in business, while at other times we may apply recreational technology to our business practices.

So let’s take a look at the latest technology for the 2019 ski and snowboard season. I’ve purposefully avoided more mainstream technologies like GoPro cameras, boot warmers, Bluetooth helmets and others that use new technologies but don’t really stretch the limits.

Ski and Snowboard Apps

Much of the activity in ski technology will be found at your mitten covered fingertips.

SkiLynx lets you create a skiing group and helps you track their location by letting you know which run or lift your group is riding. It has aggregated GPS-driven trail maps from most major resorts so that you can avoid the vagaries of trying to locate your party with Find My Friends. The app also offers quick messages that can be sent to friends from your iPhone or Apple Watch, as well as the ability to see their progress down a trail.

The legendary ski brand Rossignol has teamed with tech company PIQ to offer skiers PIQ Robot, which beams real time intelligence directly from their skis so as to increase performance downhill and on jumps. The sensors interface with your mobile device to permit fine tuning during breaks in the run. The sensors are able to analyze angle, transition, G-Force, rotations, airtime, and G-Force at landing.  For those of us who study “edge computing” this application adds a whole new meaning to the term!

No outdoor experience for the ski tech geek would be compete without some kind of augmented reality app. The International Ski Foundation’s Skadi provides that opportunity to skiers or boarders using a “crystal collection” challenge akin to a slope side Pokemon Go. In addition, the app serves as an augmented reality tour guide which adjusts based on ability. Skiers/riders input their ability level and route preferences and they receive prompts and directions through their headphones to guide them down an optimal route. The beauty is that, once downloaded, the app does not require a mobile signal.

High Tech Goggles

Goggle manufacturer Uvex has developed a battery-operated product branded as Snowstrike that change to four different tints automatically, or at the press of a button. For anyone who has skied during “shadow hours” or as the sun sets, you’ll immediately understand how useful it is to have the ability to adjust for the amount of light available — especially in mogul fields where contrast is critical.

Ski Technology

Next generation ski manufacturer Renoun has invented Hyper Dampening Technology (HDT) that leverages what they refer to as a “Non-Newtonian Polymer” that permits a ski to change from a soft ski to a firm ski depending on the conditions it senses. My word count limit does not permit me to define the science of non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, but I assure you it’s not just a marketing term. For those skiers and riders who have experienced massively contrasting snow/ice conditions between the top and bottom of the mountain, you know how important flexibility in your equipment’s reaction to the slope can be.

Please feel free to share any other compelling ski tech with us in the comments section!

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