Some Very Cool Tech Advances Will Be On the Hill This Season

By David Schissler (October 2015) Alfred Boyadgis, founder of a Sydney, Australia based company called Forcite, is bringing the first smart snow helmet to market this winter. As someone who has been shooting on the hill since video hit consumers, I must say I’m impressed with what Forcite has put together. For all of you […]

By David Schissler

(October 2015) Alfred Boyadgis, founder of a Sydney, Australia based company called Forcite, is bringing the first smart snow helmet to market this winter.

As someone who has been shooting on the hill since video hit consumers, I must say I’m impressed with what Forcite has put together.

For all of you spec junkies, this helmet is loaded with useful features such as:

  • A full HD 1080p camera with image stabilization capturing 120fps footage for slow motion replays with a wide angle 160 degree lens is integrated into the top front of the helmet. It even has a set of OLED fog lights to improve lighting when visibility is limited. Button controls built into one of the helmet’s side flaps activate the lights and the video separately.
  • A noise cancelling, wind resistant microphone works with your phone over Bluetooth 4.0. You can also communicate with other helmet wearers via Wi-Fi, within a 50-meter (164-ft) range
  • An altimeter to log heights and track performance. Your log can be sent to third party apps
  • An emergency beacon to send GPS locations automatically upon intense impact which can also be triggered manually
  • Stereo speakers to play music from your smartphone via Bluetooth

The devices are controlled via the onboard AI and app. To make all this work Forcite has developed the EON system. It’s a custom designed and built computing system at the heart of everything hosting 4 core processors powering all the functions in the helmet yet small enough to fit into the helmets safely.
“Imagine this technology as a superhuman companion who guides and captures youradventures,” said Boyadgis. This is “the biggest revolution to the ski slope since the ski lift”.
Michael Drysdale, Director, Business Strategy at Forcite Helmets says the helmet will be priced at $799US and available in January. For those who can’t wait there are a limited number available at Kickstarter.com for $649US. If you would like to learn more visithttp://forcite.com.au/

Video Head
Integrated cameras have found their way into another helmet company’s models this season. Video head is now constructing helmets designed for anyone interested in filming action sports footage. An integrated camera solves many annoying issues when shooting POV footage. Since most cameras are head mounted they’re often a challenge to control and vulnerable to falls, branches and other obstacles on the hill.

The camera is embedded into the front of the helmet with power and record controls placed on the lower right side. The lens can be maneuvered into four different positions. There’s a small red LED light on the rim of the helmet informing the user that the camera is actively recording. An audible beep also confirms recording is in progress.

Video Head offers three models, each with a mini microphone for audio recording and a USB 2.0 port for convenient uploading and charging.

  • The entry level VX1 is meant for beginners with VGA resolution at 30fps, a 60-degree lens with 2 GB of storage, good for about 30 minutes of filming. It’s the most affordable model at the hard to believe price of only $55.
  • The VX3 offers 720p at 30fps with a 120-degree lens with 8 GB of storage, good for about 60 minutes of filming and can take still photos at 5 megapixels. It retails for $120.
  • The top-of-the-line is the VX5, a 1080p at 60fps with a 127-degree lens that can also take still photos at 10 megapixels. It retails for $200. This particular model is available only at REI

For more info visit http://videoheadhelmets.com/

RideOn Smart Goggles
If Augmented Reality is your thing then RideOn has a pair of goggles for you. Their website touts the goggle’s ability to help you interact, navigate, and play, with videos demonstrating each point. I have to admit the capabilities built into these goggles demonstrate cutting edge display technology. All the features are built right into the goggle. You can record videos, send messages to other users, and see navigational info for getting around the mountain. If that’s not enough, you can play virtual games while waiting to connect with your posse. Perhaps the feature that blows me away most is how you can navigate using a hands-free control method where the wearer looks at the menu options and makes a selection by holding their eye position.

The goggles require a 3G connection for live features and lack a SIM card so you’ll need your smart-phone to use them. They employ a 2,400mAh battery providing more than 8 hours of usage, feature anti-fog and anti-scratch protection and claim to be easily readable in bright sunlight.

“What distinguishes RideOn is our delivery of a true AR experience, derived from a see ¬through display that projects data onto the centre of your field of view, not on the side,” says Alon Getz, CEO and co-founder. “We wanted to find our locations on a ski resort map instantly, or to quickly contact each other when we’d get separated. We wanted to do these things without having to take our gloves off, or use our phones.”

The RideOn AR goggle is available now for a limited time at the pre-order price of $499. The retail cost will rise to $899. Frankly, I’ve been in tech all my life but I’m not sure I’m ready for data displayed in front of me while skiing. The technology is amazing, but not for everyone, even if you can afford it. Call me old school, but when I ride I just want to see the terrain in front of me and the scenery around me. After watching the demonstration videos on the website I think there’s more going on in the lens I want to know. For me, there’s a definite distraction element to it all. Yet, according to the website, “The user experience is optimized for minimum distraction. RideOn automatically detects motion and switches to an extremely minimal riding mode when skiing downhill. The full information and interaction features are only displayed while standing still. The information is displayed on a see-through display that projects light into your right eye. Within a few minutes of use, the brain adjusts and it feels that the information resides on the real world.” For more info visit www.rideonvision.com