Tech takes to the ski slopes | The Network

    Snow sports fans at the world’s top ski resorts this year will be looking for more than fresh powder and slightly-below-freezing cold. Just as network-based tech is inching into all other parts of our lives, it’s also taking a hold of the slopes—to the joy of skiers.

    Ski and snowboard buffs have long used the image-capture features of smart phones and cameras to share photos and video of their latest moves. And the tech to do so has got better and better.

    GoPro for instance, offers a product with front-and-back lenses for a 360º field of view, plus an app that lets users preview, edit, and share videos while on the move.

    But sharing photos and video is old hat compared to some of the new high-tech apps making an entrance. Take Carv.

    Backed with a Kickstarter campaign that went five and a half times over target, Carv aims to be “the first wearable technology dedicated to skiing that speaks to you as you ski.”

    Carv’s system uses motion and pressure sensors in your ski boots to feed data to a mobile app that gives you real-time hints on how to improve your technique. “Basically, we’re making a digital ski coach,” says Jamie Grant, Carv’s CEO.

    The system is aimed at intermediate to advanced skiers, but mainly aims to bolster the learning you might get from a ski instructor. It helps you gain skills even when you don’t have a pro by your side, which for some people can be the point at which they give up.

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    All this technology isn’t just about helping people to ski better and share their highlights, though. It could also help with safety.

    Global Positioning System (GPS)-linked tracking apps are one of the most common types of mobile tech in use on ski slopes, thought to be used by millions each year.

    As well as helping users to see what routes they have been down, and how fast, the apps can help locate people who have gone missing.

    In 2014, for instance, GPS tracking helped to find eight children and two adults who got lost on the Red Mountain ski resort in British Columbia, Canada.

    “While the individual skiers did not have GPS trackers on them, the same technology was used by the resort to locate the potential paths they may have taken,” said a news report. “This is how the helicopter found them on the mountain.”

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    Given all this, it is perhaps no surprise that resorts are rushing to improve network connectivity. In 2014, for example, Whistler Blackcomb, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, brought in RFID access on its chairlifts.

    This kind of system is now used in many other resorts, and some have gone much further. The Austrian resort of Sölden, for one, has installed Wi-Fi along with the world’s fastest ski lift and a futuristic restaurant that was featured in a James Bond movie.

    Snow machines, meanwhile, kick in automatically in response to temperature, pressure, and humidity signals. For now, Sölden is at the peak of tech excellence in the skiing world, but expect more resorts to follow suit soon.

    “Skiing is still a still great way to enjoy nature and get away from the stresses of modern life,” says Conchita Bonatti of the award-winning Catalan Ski School or Escola Catalana d’Esquí, in La MolinaCatalonia, “but many people are now getting even more out of it with technology.”


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