The presence of RFID technology on the ski slopes continues to grow, and not just in access-control solutions, as reported last week.
An Austrian company is developing a RFID-based solution which lets slalom skiers know when they should have zigged rather than zagged, and other, far more detailed analysis.
The system, developed by Abatec and currently being tested by university and private researchers in Magdeburg, Germany, places RFID transponders on an athlete’s skis. As the skier slaloms down a slope, readers placed along the course pick up the signal from the skis. With these readings, a computer is able to calculate the exact positioning of the skis along the entire run of the course.
Coaches can use this information to find problems with a skier’s technique; if the skis remain parallel, if there is any drifting at curves, or if the skier is carving properly – the term for taking curves entirely on the edge of the skis.
Initial tests of the system were successful. Researchers are now dealing with a number of details to perfect the application. The issues being worked on include finding an adhesive that will keep the tags tightly bonded to the skis while on the course, but can be easily removed when they are no longer needed.
Another issue has already been resolved. Most skis include a metal layer, and the layers vary in different ski models. This can interfere with RFID signals, and the interference varied with the metals, complicating the data analysis. The researchers have determined that an extra metal layer inserted between tag and ski can distort the RFID signal uniformly, essentially overriding the varying signal distortions from the different metal layers. The RFID system can then be calibrated to deal with this uniform distortion.