2013 was a good year for high tech toys and the people who love them. Google Glass dropped in February to developers, giving the world a sneak-peak at what Google has planned for augmenting future realities. And the smartphone really came into its own with widespread 4G adoption and more apps hitting online stores than ever before. What was once a toy is now an indispensable tool for managing all aspects of your life.
The ski industry is trying its best to keep up, too. Augmented reality goggles and sweet on-mountain digital experiences offer a taste of what the future holds for high-tech skiers and snowboarders.
It seems like everyone is releasing an “action camera” these days. Liquid Image has taken it a step further by embedding the action camera in a pair of goggles. You can check them out here. This way you don’t have to mount the camera on your helmet and rock the “Teletubby look” or risk losing your camera when you fall.
Oakley has a pair of high-tech goggles, too. They released their Airwave 1.5 goggle a while back. It features everything you need in a goggle, including a stylish headband, tough frames, and tinted lenses – and a whole bunch of stuff you don’t. Stuff like a heads-up display and a bevy of sensors to display things like vertical feet, speed, and the amplitude of your jumps. Just because you don’t need it doesn’t mean it’s not fun to play with.
Gear manufacturers aren’t the only ones harnessing the power of circuit boards and networks to make your time on the snow more enjoyable. In recent years, the ski resorts themselves have gotten in on the action by producing apps that make it easier to know what’s what on the mountain.
Vail Resorts has something called EpicMix, and it’s awesome. What makes it so great? First of all, you don’t have to have the app installed on your phone right off the bat. To start using the app, you have to have an EpicPass from Vail Resorts, either a day pass or a season pass. Then when you see the big “EpicMix” banners, you can ask the people manning them to scan your pass and take your picture. You can then access those photos and share them with your Facebook friends and followers on Twitter using the EpicMix app. It’s very cool. Be sure to check it out the next time you’re relaxing in your vacation rental after a long day on the snow.
Copper Mountain has its own app, but it’s a little different. Sherpa helps Copper’s guests get hip to local information without having to actually know or be a local. Unless you live in town and work on the mountain, it’s impossible to tell where the best snow on the mountain is without talking to a local. Copper designed Sherpa to give regular Joes access to the same information ski patrol and the lifties get. With Sherpa, you never have to wonder if you’re spending your time on a less-than-stoked part of the mountain. You’re always in the know, so you always know where to go.
We might not have those flying cars they’ve been promising us, but we do have awesome augmented reality glasses and goggles with which to whet our technological appetites. In the future, you’ll probably be able to plan your entire ski vacation using an app and record every last memory using tiny cameras that weigh next to nothing.
For now, this is the best we can do. And we’re doing pretty darn good if you ask me.
Author Aston Reynolds is a full-time writer and part-time ski bum who lives in Denver, CO.