Hurtling down the ski slope and hearing voices in your head? Don’t worry. You’re not going crazy. (Well, probably not…) The Carv system is a smart wearable that gives you coaching tips and live feedback on your conditions through earphones as you slalom your way off the mountain.
Sounds a bit Bond-like (we’re picturing James in a tuxedo, leaping off a ski lift and racing athletically down the mountain, arcs of snow spraying up in his wake), but in fact it’s just a way of giving regular skiers access to info that’s previously been enjoyed only by professionals. Inventor Jamie Grant says he wanted to “democratize the technology.”
He first got interested in recording sports data as a student. “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,” he explains. “It was an academic problem that got out of hand!”
His physics background made him interested in telemetry, or measuring movement, so when he turned to studying financial statistics for his doctorate, he explored the data analysis side, or how to use the measurements you’ve recorded, and the seed idea of Carv was born. “As a keen skier myself, I soon started applying this to my experience on the slopes,” he adds.
So what exactly is Carv? The system has a wearable that you attach to your ski boot and a special insert that goes inside. As you ski, all the data is analyzed through an app and you can get feedback through earphones or heads-up displays. The smart insert is very thin and won’t affect the way you ski, say the Carv tech team, and the tracker is small and lightweight, so you can easily clip it on and off your boot.
The Carv sensors monitor your stance, weight distribution and movements, helping you to ski more efficiently and safely. And of course, since you’re getting real-time feedback as you go, you can make adjustments en route. Carv also shakes up training by giving the skier new drills and lessons to try, and you can keep track of your personal bests or challenge a ski buddy to match your progress.
The system works on all types of skiing, not just downhill. Free-stylers can get feedback on jumps and whether they need to adjust their take-off or landing, and cross-country skiers can benefit as Carv analyzes their foot timing, symmetry and weight distribution. If the skier’s form is off, they will tire more easily, lose seconds in competitive skiing or perhaps even suffer an injury, so there are plenty of good reasons to monitor movements and make adjustments. And that’s not even taking into account the competitive spirit and desire to improve one’s performance.
Tech and production delays mean Carv preorders won’t be delivered until February 2017, says company CEO Grant. No doubt skiers everywhere are hoping for late snowfalls so they can get busy on the slopes as soon as the box arrives.