Today, PIQ — a company that makes an advanced sports tracker— announced that it’s taking its smart device ambitions even further, showing off prototypes of what it claims are the world’s first smart skis and kiteboard. While the current version of PIQ’s Robot tracker requires wearing the device separately, or manually mounting it to the board, the new kiteboard and ski prototypes streamline that process by directly integrating the sensor into the respective boards.
The skis were made in conjunction with Rossignol and are modified versions of the flagship Hero Masters (a roughly $1,000 professional-grade ski that I can absolutely not afford to use when I go skiing), adding a display for viewing statistics from integrated sensors. Like the separate version of the Robot tracker, the modified skis combined with a smartphone app can determine basic stats like speed and distance to far more esoteric information like turn angle, edge-to-edge transition time, and force, among others.
I personally like to use a ski-tracking app called Slopes on the rare occasions I can make it up to the mountains for a weekend. And while Slopes is great at what it does, parlaying the accelerometer and location tracking abilities of an iPhone into quantifiable data, the PIQ integration feels like a whole new level — largely due to the subtly integrated display, which makes them look almost like a science fiction prop. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t be able to do much with that data other then go “Oh, that’s interesting,” and move on — I’m not a professional skier by any account, but as someone who likes gadgets, smart skis just sound cool. Or maybe this is a lame idea and I just miss skiing a lot right now.
The kiteboard prototype, built in partnership with North (a leading kiteboard company) offers a similar integration, embedding a display and tracker directly into the company’s Jaime board to more easily track and view stats for things like speed, hangtime, and jump height.
PIQ’s tracker (although they prefer the term “nano-computer”) isn’t new in and of itself, with the company currently selling the tracker and sensors for use in skiing, golfing, boxing, tennis, and kiteboarding. The system is powered by what PIQ calls GAIA, an artificial intelligence-powered machine learning algorithm for processing the data in real time. Each sport has its own app and is produced in partnership with a leading brand in that field — Everlast for boxing, for example, or Babolat for tennis.
While PIQ, Rossignol, and North aren’t commenting on a price or release date for the integrated boards just yet, consider that a regular Rossignol Hero Master set runs for around $1,000, while a Jaime kiteboard will set you back around $700 — so chances are the final products (with the addition of screens and sensors) probably won’t be cheap.