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Problems with skiing?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
For an engineering class I have to design a product that "improves the quality of life in the upper valley(of new hampshire)". Our first project idea was a pedometer that could be linked to the television, so children cannot watch tv without having their recommended dose of exercise for the day. Seemed great, but its a bitch to do(logic boards, IRDA optics, real messy) and it doesnt look like we have a potential costumer base.

So I thought I'd pose the question to you all and see what ideas you guys had. What are your problems with skiing? I'm more looking for a problem than a potential product. (example: problem getting small children on chair lifts, have to resort to using snowmobile and trailer, or problem making a backcountry binding(NAXO, freeride) that is strong enough to use inbounds regularly)

Thanks
Zack
post #2 of 14
How about designing a device that gives racers in training (and possibly other serious skiers) instant feedback about:

a) Whether or not there is any sideways component of the movement of snow under their skis (ie, small ammts of skidding); and,

b)Their instantaneous forward velocity.

I'm thinking of a laser diode based (homodyne) doppler velocimiter, velcroed onto each boot or ski, pointing sideways shooting a a slight downward angle at the nearby snow. A simple low powered RF link (PCM?) sends the beat frequency to a headset module which produces a tone whose pitch is based on the sideways velocity - keep it at zero Hz and you are in a pure carve.

If you hear a tone in one ear and not the other, you are probably lightly sliding your inside foot over the snow (ie, slowing yourself) and not carving with it.

Switch modes, and use forward looking lasers to measure forward velocity. In this mode, the device would emit sound only if your speed is over some preset threshold value (eg, 30, 40, etc. mph), easily adjustable for each racer, each course, etc.. The idea is to keep the tone always on and at as high a pitch as possible - ie, another feedback mechanism to get another mph and minimize the periods of braking.

Give it a bit more RF power, and now the data can be captured and recorded on the stereo audio track of a videocam that is filming the run for coaching purposes. This way, the coach has forward and sideways velocities for every frame of the tape.

Depending on how extravagent you get, the following concept shouldn't take many components, uses mostly stock chips, probably little or no DSP is needed, etc. ...

Get the coaches at your local hill to debug and use it, and if they like it, approach higher level teams. If it catches on, its simple enough that you could sub out the boards, receive them back fully populated, and the only thing you would have to do is put them in boxes with power and headphone connectors, slather on some potting compound (for vibration and water) and ship them right from your garage.

When it catches on big in race circles, label it, "The Fast Line Finder" and give one to BobBarnes to play with for rec skiers.

Obviously, no wishful thinking was involved at all in this concept.

Tom / PM

[ October 16, 2003, 01:19 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #3 of 14
WOW! PM hits a three run homer on the first pitch!!

How about an inexpensive, relatively accurate ski odometer? Cross country skiers and entry level alpine skiers would buy them up faster than the stores could stock them. A lot of entry level skiers think they are doing a lot more than they really are. An item giving quantitative data would allow them to set easily monitored goals.

I like PM's idea better, but don't think the target market can produce a profitable situation.

[ October 16, 2003, 01:54 PM: Message edited by: feal ]
post #4 of 14
I'd like to be able to switch between bindings on my skis.

I have a few pairs of skis in my quiver, and only one backcountry set up. I'd like to be able to take any ski from the quiver, pull the alpine bindings and put on the AT set-up. This of course would require minimal weight addition, and extreme durability, with little or no lift added.
post #5 of 14
I'd like to be able to only own 1 pair of bindings and quickly and easily mount them on whatever ski I was going to use that day.

Why should I have to spend $150 for bindings for EVERY SINGLE PAIR OF SKIS?

For 5 pair of skis, bindings are $750!!! If I could use just one pair of bindings for all of them, I could afford more skis!!!

Plus, the skis would fit in the car so much nicer with no bindings.
post #6 of 14
Line already addressed this binding issue (maybe...), but it sure would be nice for bindings to be interchangable as a rule. With the move towards integrated systems, however, I doubt that this feature will ever become widespread.
post #7 of 14
How about a safety vest/ harness for children w/ an attachment device for chairlifts? Such a device, or equivalent, if it existed, should be mandatory for small children riding chairlifts. It used to give me the creeps, teaching children skiing, knowing just how dangerous riding lifts is for them. They are too small to really sit back in the seat so they are sitting on the edge all the time, ready to slip under the safety bar. We had a few fall off the chairlift, a long way down, fortunately not one of my charges. Ski area management goes to great lengths to keep it quiet so it may happen more than we think. Only once is too often, to my way of thinking, if it could be prevented.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by lurking bear:
I'd like to be able to only own 1 pair of bindings and quickly and easily mount them on whatever ski I was going to use that day.

Why should I have to spend $150 for bindings for EVERY SINGLE PAIR OF SKIS?

For 5 pair of skis, bindings are $750!!! If I could use just one pair of bindings for all of them, I could afford more skis!!!

Plus, the skis would fit in the car so much nicer with no bindings.
The Tyrolia Railflex plate and binding let you do that. You can have the Railflex plate mounted on your skis then you can switch binding by removing one screw and putting them on another ski with the railflex plate. One screw that is all and if you are using the same boot, no length change. Time for the process 3 minutes maximum.

The AT binding idea would be cool. It would be a matter of making an AT binding that fits to alpine manufacturer plate. The problem is that not all integrate system can be switched as fast as the Railflex system. But on Railflex system, it would be fast and efficient. The problem would be to be limited to one brand of integrated syetem for AT and Alpine. Unless some third party manufacturer would make compatible AT bindings to major systems.

[ October 16, 2003, 08:08 PM: Message edited by: Frenchie ]
post #9 of 14
how about a device which spots when someone is sitting down in the middle of the slope just beyond the ridge you're about to ski over?
(Semi joking, but what I mean is some kind of collision sensor)

S
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally posted by Wear the fox hat:
how about a device which spots when someone is sitting down in the middle of the slope just beyond the ridge you're about to ski over?
(Semi joking, but what I mean is some kind of collision sensor)

S
In the interest of safety Snowboarders should have to wear very tall (3m) pointed hats.
post #11 of 14
How about a clear, heated hood that fits over a person's head for cold, windy chairlift rides.
post #12 of 14
boot heaters that are affordable! my feet are always freezing while I am skiing but I really can't justify a $200 heater.
besides that, a way to go backcountry without any work(instant ski lift) umm, good skis that aren't $500-$1000(considerign it probably costs about $30 to make them, $40 to get them here, and add $20 for good measure you get $90 for a $1000 ski. ok, I'm just rambling on here. :

BoB
post #13 of 14
In case you didn't see it, CantDog apparently saw our responses in this thread, and then through group discussion, decided that snow interfering with binding function was a possibly important safety issue. He started a new thread to get feedback on this particular problem.

A few comments:

1) He forgot to thank people who responded to his question. However, I'll thank you myself, since I found everybody's comments quite interesting. I particularly liked the novel requests for the ski odometer and safety mechanism for little kids on lifts. Cheaper/better interchangeable bindings and boot heaters are definitely needed, but these are pretty well known engineering development issues in skiing.

2) CantDog started a similar thread over on powder,

http://forum.powdermag.com/cgi-bin/u...c;f=1;t=022711

and, ignoring the barbs and humorous responses, got a couple of interesting suggestions over there as well.

Tom / PM

[ October 19, 2003, 11:55 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Sorry I have not been able to reply to comments the past few days. Our group has had to find another problem, distribute surveys, brainstorm possibly solutions and begin foamcore modeling over the past three days. To get this far on our previous endevour it took 3 weeks, so its been a bit of a crunch.

Our group choose not to pick one of the problems suggested for many reasons. Our timeline for the project is only until December 10th, so to create an adequate and functional product for some of the ideas was not possible. Second, we considered all the ideas, and then went to various other groups(local ski shops, teams, ski areas) to ask them if they thought it was a problem. Many of the ideas were great, but we did not have an adequate market in the Upper Valley of NH.

I'm meeting with Nordica, Technica, and Marker today to discuss our problem and possible solutions, and to ask for help. We are also working with the Cold Regions research center, and Dartmouth's cold lab. I'll post updates when I get them, but unfortunately there might be periods when I cannot access the board for days at a time. If you have any questions you can email me, I try and check it regularly(it should be in my profile)

Hope this clears things up a bit,
Thanks
-Zack
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