This Atmel-powered system analyzes motion and pressure data to give skiers real-time feedback on how to improve.
Throughout the world, approximately 120 million people will hit the slopes each year. This doesn’t include the countless others who are dying to learn how to ski either. Whether a novice or professional or somewhere in between, how cool would it be to have a coach that could be right there with you trail after trail? Well, UK-based startup MotionMetrics has come up with the perfect solution.
Meet Carv, a digital ski coach that combines a wearable device and a smartphone app with intuitive analysis algorithms to help you improve your technique. Inspired by Olympic technology, Carv gives you access to the feedback and knowledge that only elite skiers have had access to so far.
Carv itself is comprised of two parts. The first is a wearable that attaches to a ski boot, while the second is a ~1mm insert that’s actually placed inside the boot. All the data is then analyzed through an accompanying mobile app, which allows skiers to receive feedback on their performance either on-screen or in real-time, through earphones or heads-up displays. And for more sophisticated athletes, Carv can automatically synchronize video from your GoPro with the data, enabling instructors and coaches to scrutinize the footage alongside the overlaid information.
The solution employs a series of sensors, hidden under the boot liners. Each sensor unit packs 48 independent pressure sensors, meant to pick up even the most minute changes in the pressure distribution, along with an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer that provides Carv with information related to the motion and orientation of the skis. Communication is handled by Bluetooth Low Energy.
The sensor unit is powered and controlled by the boot-mounted Carv trackers, which serve as the brains of the system. These trackers are responsible for coordinating data collection, performing calculations for pressure and motion at high frequencies (220Hz), and overseeing wireless communication with the smartphone.
As high-tech of a platform Carv may be, you’ll barely notice that it’s even there. Inspired from current snow sports wear accessories such as customized insoles and boot warmers, the smart insert is super thin and can be slipped in without affecting the way you ski. What’s more, the Carv tracker can be quickly and easily clipped and unclipped whenever it needs to be charged (via USB).
“The idea for Carv began when I was looking at how recording and analysis of data can help people do things better during my PhD. It was an academic problem that got out of hand,” founder Jamie Grant explains. “Coming from a physics background, I was particularly interested in the telemetry side of things – looking at how you can measure movement. Then, whilst studying for a PhD in financial statistics, I worked on the data analysis side – what can you actually do with those measurements once you’ve recorded them? As a keen skier myself, I soon started applying this to my experience on the slopes.”
Grant and his team had a secured a place at HAX, an exclusive hardware accelerator in Shenzhen. With this mentorship, the MotionMetrics crew was not just able to bring their idea to life, but to further develop their unique pressure and motion sensing system that can now measure metrics like weight distribution. Ultimately, this development helps users spot common mistakes such as leaning too heavily on a turn, an action that can slow the skier down, or even worse, cause cranes.
Sound like the 24/7 coach you’ve been looking for? Race over to Carv’s Kickstrater campaign, where the team of PhD students from the University of Imperial College London is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in November 2016, just in time for next year’s snow season.