The Snow Gauge

Running the rule over the ski & snowboard industry since 1995

Fun snow app wants to get serious and save lives

Posted by on Aug 16, 2018 in Australia, New Zealand, World | 0 comments

The Snoww app has combined with the Apple Watch to provide some neat features for snow users – but it’s the future possibilities with the technology that are most exciting.

Anyone with an Epic Pass (I’m told there are a few out there) would probably be pretty familiar with the dashboard and its ability to track your ski and snowboard day.

It does things like register your lift rides, vertical ridden and can subtly remind you of that mysterious gap you had in the middle of the afternoon where you were sinking schooners at the Guthega Pub.

But there’s a bunch of apps out there that are taking this info to a whole new level.

I was asked to check out a free one called Snoww which has been available since 2016 but is now doing some great things when paired with the Series Three Apple Watch.

I’ll get to the fun stuff in a minute but what intrigued me most was what is possible from a safety aspect with the technology.

In fact if its creator Eddy Healey has his way, it could soon be saving lives.

Eddy Healey

Eddy Healey

“For ages I wanted to make an avalanche detection feature … but it doesn’t even have to be that, you could just be out skiing by yourself or you’ve broken a bone,” Healey explains to me.

The premise could be this: you’re trapped in a tree well, maybe covered deep in snow or find yourself hurt without immediate help in the back or side country.

Reaching for your phone may be out of the question (particularly in the instance of being covered by avalanche debris) but if you have an Apple Watch on a voice command through Siri it may be a whole lot more practicable.

The idea would be to use Siri with an emergency verbal message to trigger alerts and GPS co-ordinates to a prescribed list, which may include ski patrol and close family and friends and assuming you’ve done the right thing and are with others – those in your immediate group. 

When time is of the essence – and assuming you’ve got some reception (which admittedly isn’t always the case) it could be a life saver.

It’s something Healey sees down the track for the app which he came up with when he became disappointed at other snow offerings on the App store.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

A runner and skier who loved comparing digital notes with his fellow sports enthusiasts, he felt they were rather limited in scope.

“It was around 2016. The app I was using seemed pretty old fashioned. It was pretty bland and boring. For me skiing is a social activity and I wanted to make a fun and social app out of it,” he said.

Over a season in Canada, Snoww was born.

Two years on and Snoww is one of the most popular and useful ski and snowboard apps about. You can map your ski day beyond the vertical on lift rides, check your speed, monitor your heart rate and compare and contrast it all with friends. It’s also resort agnostic – so you can do it anywhere you choose to ride.

“One of the main strengths is the social side to it. When you look at Ski Tracks and Slopes they are really great apps which help your own skiing but they are really for your own skiing. Snoww is more of a social media website or app. You can follow your friends and find them or new friends and go skiing on the mountain.”

“Also (with other apps and dashboards) there’s no way of really seeing a map of where you’ve been skiing, where you’ve been. You can’t see distance. You can see the vertical but it depends what route you take. (With Snoww) you can also see the max speed and calories burned. You can just get a lot more detail with Snoww. And especially if you are using the Apple Watch you can see your heart rate throughout the day and it just offers a lot more variety of stats as well as ski resorts.”

By the start of this northern hemisphere season you can expect an augmented reality; enabling you to track other skiers on the mountain. For people that are a bit loose on working out maps, particularly at new resorts with say 360 degree riding, it’s a cracking idea that will pinpoint exactly where your ski buddies are and show you as you are getting closer to them. Kind of like Google Maps for mountains that also tracks moving objects.

Healey suggests there’s a bunch of other possibilities for the app combining with the Apple Watch like realtime data about liftlines and using the watch to scan your way onto lifts. 

I also got that feeling that he was working behind the scenes on a few other things but, just like in his skiing, wants to keep his powder dry at this stage.

Glenn Cullen traveled with Apple to test out the Snoww App at Coronet Peak.

 

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