Wearable technology is integrated into just about every sport nowadays, so it’s hardly surprising to find such innovations having an impact on popular winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding.
According to winter holiday company Club Med’s 2018 report, ‘Mapping Ski Trends Winter 2018', almost three quarters (74%) of skiers are now taking at least one piece of wearable tech to the slopes with them to either track or record their performance. The effect tech is having on such sports is probably more than you think.
But it’s not your bog standard GoPro or run-of-the-mill smartwatches that are changing how people experience winter sports. There’s a whole raft of clever gadgets and accompanying software being employed - and in cunning ways. From digital ski coaches to sweat-wicking connected jackets, here are some of the best ski innovations that have hit the slopes this season.
Carving it up
If you’re relatively new to skiing but really keen on improving, there’s a nifty wearable called Carv that’s been made especially for those wanting to perfect their skiing technique. It acts as your very own ‘digital coach’, offering in-ear tips in real-time via a phone app, which will ensure you fall far less often, or at least avert a silly mistake that could lead to a face plant.
Developed by UK start-up MotionMetrics, Carv is inspired by Olympic technology and based on two smart ski boot inserts that capture motion and pressure as you descend down the mountainside. Each smart insole is attached to a unit that fixes to the outside of the ski boot and houses an accelerometer, gyroscope and a magnetometer, all of which measure the motion and orientation of your skis. As you glide down the slopes, the smart soles cleverly relay feedback to your phone over Bluetooth and compare your results to those of professionals, giving you a performance rating out of 100 for four main categories: balance, edging, rotation, and pressure. Carv refers to this as a ‘Ski IQ’.
When your backside hits the ski lift, the system will cleverly sense that you’ve finished the run and automatically offer up a rundown of your performance, telling you where you should improve next time. This clever wearable device could really be the future of skiing.
Even when temperatures fall below zero, carving your way down a snowy mountainside on two skis can still be a sweat-inducing activity. But what if your jacket was so smart that it was able to suck the moisture out from you while you bomb down the slopes at breakneck speed, keeping you dry and avoiding the post-activity chill that results from having saturated undergarments?
Well, that’s what Swiss apparel company KJUS’s latest outerwear piece, the Hydro_Bot, claims to do. This super smart jacket powered by a process called electro-osmosis and is said to be the first electronic, user-controlled membrane integrated into a sports jacket ever made. It works via actively pumping out sweat from the wearer’s inner garments, which is controlled via a Bluetooth-enabled iPhone or Android app, where - at the touch of a button - the electrical pulse is applied and sweat is pulled away, freeing it from inside the skier’s clothing system.
The Hydro_Bot also has all the perks of a standard premium ski jacket, such as inside pocket with ski snood and a zip pouch for your lift pass. However, the cutting-edge tech doesn’t come cheap. The jacket retails for a whopping £1,300.
A wearable to boot
Austrian ski equipment maker Atomic unveiled the future of ski boots at CES earlier this year with the debut of a digital skiing concept called the Atomic Hawx Ultra Connected.
Developed in conjunction with biomechanics experts from Salzburg University and powered by Movesense sensors, Atomic’s Hawx Connected is a connected ski boot that brings digital tracking and analysis capabilities to your ski run through a connected app.
Offering instant on-slope feedback, Hawx Connected will let you know how exactly to adjust your skiing technique for better performance, done by prompting you to refine your balance, pressure control, and edging skills. This works by using sensory feedback from the boot with on-demand notifications in real-time.
With in-depth technique analysis, the Atomic Connected app also offers endless amounts of ski-specific data such as balance, pressure control, edging, slope angle, turn count, GPS track, run count, average speed, top speed, total distance, total vertical. The app also acts as a training log, coach, and ski buddy, giving you a breakdown of your skiing technique the second you finish each run and letting you share this with a global ski community. The future of the slopes is connected, that’s for sure.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a Robocop-style heads-up display as you descend down the white powdery ski slopes, telling you exactly how fast you’re going, how far you’ve come and where exactly you are? Well, no need to wonder anymore - it’s already been done.
Ski apparel brand Oakley recently developed some super smart connected goggles called the Airwave 1.5, which combines a built-in heads-up display as well as integrated Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth along with a host of other on-board sensors.
This means users can access a full range of info transmitted directly to the eyes through Oakley's glare-blocking lenses as they meander down endless ski runs at break-neck speeds.
The most exciting aspect, however, has to be the goggles’ MOD live feature - an augmented display which is perceived as a 14-inch screen standing five feet away within the wearer’s peripheral vision. This, along with the embedded GPS, accurately measures how fast you are moving down the slope, tracking the distance, height and even the airtime of your jumps with super-intelligent analytic software and adding the data as a log within a connected app.
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