Skiing makes us feel like jet fighter pilots blasting down the slopes at Mach 2. With small size GPS receivers and displays, the technology is out there to give us the HUD (Heads Up Display) we’ve always wanted. It was only a matter of time until someone made smart ski goggles to give us this fun tech to play with. There have been a few smart ski goggles available in the past and a really promising new goggle on the horizon. Let’s take a look at the technology and benefits of smart ski goggles and where you can get them from.
What are Smart Ski Goggles?
What exactly does “Smart” technology mean? The marketing term “smart” implies that a smart product is much better than it’s dumb version. Smart products typically are connected to the internet or your iPhone or Android device. It seems there is smart everything available these days. What are smart ski goggles and what makes them special? Smart ski goggles offer up connectivity to your phone including messaging and navigation features. Of course the Heads Up Display you’ve always wanted when flying on snow.
Below is a little video from RideOn previewing their upcoming Smart Ski Goggles.
Technology Features Of Smart Goggles
Let’s take a detailed look at some of the features available on smart ski goggles. What do you get for going smart on the snow with the current offerings?
Heads Up Display
At the heart of any set of smart ski goggles is its display. In the earliest versions, this was a small physical display off to the right bottom corner of your goggles. This display could show a variety of things including your speed, location, altitude, text messages, and location.
In future smart ski goggles such as the ones being developed by RideOn the display can project across your entire goggle lens. This opens up the world of augmented reality and showing you anything where it needs to appear. When you are using navigation it can display an arrow on the upcoming trial as you see it. It can also be used for a variety of game activities like virtual rings to ski through.
Augmented reality is superimposing a computer generated image over your view of what is really there. Pokemon Go was a great example of augmented reality. Video game monsters were placed into reality on your phone screen. In the world of smart ski goggles, a variety of information can be placed in your view. Turn by turn navigation. The names of chair lifts and lodges. Trail names. Jump information in the terrain park. The possibilities are almost endless. To learn more about augmented reality click here.
Any pair of smart ski goggles must include a GPS. Location, speed and altitude are all things you would like to know while you are skiing.
The first generation of smart ski goggles included navigation features. A map was displayed on the small video display and it could show arrows pointing which way to go. Think of a Garmin or smartphone GPS at an intersection. In the new generation of smart ski goggles with augmented reality, arrows will display on your goggle lens over the trails as you see them. You won’t need to focus on a small display or think about how the tiny map relates to what you are seeing.
Smart ski goggles will be able to give you instant feedback on your jumps and tricks. Scoring how high you jumped and how many rotations you did. You can now challenge your friends on a jump to see who can get the highest score.
Audio and video communication
Share audio and text messages with your friends through their smart goggles. You will also be able to show video of what you are are currently seeing. Next time you find that untouched secret stash of powder you can show it off before tearing it up to your friends who went to ski somewhere else. You will be able to see your kids in ski school and what their ski instructors are seeing.
HD Video camera
GoPro’s mounted on your helmet are kind of annoying and you always feel like you look a bit stupid wearing one. A camera mounted in your goggles is a great way to record and share without feeling like a Teletubby. It is always with you in your goggles so the only thing you need to remember was charging it up the night before.
Internet access in your goggles lets you do things like check the weather and radar. You can see exactly when the snow is going to hit or god forbid rain. You can also check in with social media or get your mail from work. Let’s not turn smart ski goggles into the next texting and driving by using this feature too much.
Bluetooth connectivity allows you to integrate with a number of other devices. This opens the possibility for controlling your music play lists and boot heaters.
Integration with other smart drives
Carve Digital Ski Coach
The CARVE digital ski coach is a device attached to your boot that can give you real time ski coaching. It can give you feedback on your technique and suggest improvements. It also has a variety of drills to try to improve your technique. The problem is that you need to look at your phone between runs to use it.
With smart ski goggles you could get instant feedback from your carve and what to do next without looking at your phone. To learn more about Carve click here. Below is a video demonstrating carve. Imagine how much better it could be if you could see it displayed in your goggles.
Atomic Hawx Ultra Connected Ski Boot
The Atomic Hawk Ultra connected ski boot is a ski boot that promises to do similar things as the Carve Digital Ski Coach. Feeback on your skiing from pressure readings on your feet and GPS data. They were announced but not date has been given for when they will be available. The future is going to be full of many connected smart skiing devices that will help you improve your skiing.
GoPro and other action cams
You can see what your GoPro sees and check where it’s aimed directly from your ski goggles. No more GoPro’s pointed in stupid directions because you had to guess.
Benefits Of Smart Ski Goggles
There are many potential benefits of smart technology in our ski goggles and ski equipment. Beyond the coolness of constantly seeing how fast you are going there is some real usefulness.
Trail maps can be really confusing to read. They have the challenge of putting a 3D shaped mountain surface that wraps around a mountain onto a flat 2D picture. Relative distance and perspective can really suffer. With augmented reality in your ski goggles an arrow can display on your view telling you exactly, without question, which path to take. You won’t miss a trail on the side and end up going back a lift to try again anymore. You can share your location with your friends and family and everyone can make it to the same place.
You can see what time it is without digging a phone out or hoping there is a clock at the bottom or top of the lift. At some ski resorts it seems like there is no clocks anywhere.
Keeping in touch
You can share voice and video with your friends with smart goggles. You can see what they are seeing. If you go to 2 different parts of the mountain you can quickly compare where the better conditions are. You can real time share your video with friends at home who couldn’t go skiing that day.
If your children are in ski school, an instructor with smart ski goggles can share video of what they see. You can see how your kids are doing. You can enjoy their progress without being so close you interfere with the instructor.
You can share your location and make it much easier to meet up with your friends. So many times you agree on a lift but get there and the other person went up already or went to the wrong lift. You didn’t know the name so you just call it the yellow colored lift or lift going up so and so run.
Avalanche safety – Broadcast GPS location
With augmented reality, A GPS beacon and Bluetooth once you are close, you could see exactly where someone is in the snow. After an avalanche this could drastically reduce the searching time. If the smart ski goggles can read the transponder frequency off of beacons they can give you an arrow pointing to the transponder. Since time matters with avalanche rescue, any little bit helps.
Currently available Smart Ski Goggles
There is no volume manufactured smart ski goggle available right now. Several goggle makers such as Oakley and Smith produced smart ski goggles for a short period. Due to reliability issues they didn’t last long on the market. When they worked, they worked well and people who had them really had fun with it.
Past Smart Ski Goggles
A company called Recon Instruments created a small video screen with an integrated GPS called the Transcend. This was put into a pair of Goggles by Zeal Optics in 2010. This was several years before Google Glass was introduced in 2013. An improved device was created called the MOD that was used by Zeal and also Oakley and Smith. The MOD had horrible reliability and all smart ski goggles using it were quickly discontinued. The concept was proven paving the way for future smart ski goggles. Below is a list of the goggles that were made using Recon Instruments modules and a video showing the features of the Oakley Airwave.
- Oakley Airwave
- Smith I/O Recon
- Zeal Optics Z3
You can read a review of the Oakley Airwave as well as Smith I/O Recon and Zeal Optics Z3 here. It goes on to describe how terrible the reliability was.
Smart Ski Goggles in Development
Although they weren’t in production very long. The goggles using the Recon Instruments modules proved the concept was successful. The next generation of smart ski goggles is in development and we will see more options coming in the future.
A new company called RideOn has been developing the next generation of Smart Ski Goggles. These goggles feature augmented reality displayed anywhere on your goggle lens. This is a huge upgrade over a tiny video display in the bottom corner of your lens. They are also producing a Smart Ski Helmet with integrated visor.
RideOn goggles are currently for sale as a beta program for 1490 Euro or about $1800 US. The price is huge but the technology is pretty awesome. We can expect the price to go down a lot once similar technology goes into mass production.
The below video show another preview of what the RideOn ski goggles can do.
We are sure to see many more new high tech ski gadgets coming in the future. With smart devices and augmented reality, the options are endless. I would love to check out a set of RideOn goggles when they become available. The future of smart ski goggles is exciting with all the Augmented Reality features that could be developed.
For other types of ski goggles please see our complete ski goggle guide here.
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About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.