To better customize skis to their clients specific turning style, Wagner Custom Skis forged an unlikely alliance with a ski instructor turned Microsoft app developer, Kevin Ashley. By imbedding Near Field Communication (NFC) tags – like the RFID chips in your bank card – in its demo fleet, Wagner could send clients out on the slopes with a phone running Microsoft’s Winter Ski & Ride app to record their turn size, shape and frequency.
“It’s another tool for us to understand how our clients actually ski,” says Pete Wagner, of his eponymous brand. “It’s also just a hint at how NFC tags and their ilk will impact the ski industry,” states Ashley. “The technology will help the user feel more empowered,” he prothesises.
Tap the phone to an NFC embedded ski and it calibrates the app to more precisely measuring stats. Use the app enough and it could gather sufficient data to better understand your ski style and recommend a rental or new ski. Ashley even imagines a near future where the app could be an instructor in your pocket.
“With more and more sensors out there, in everything from mobile devices to goggles to wearables, all feeding data into the cloud, the apps are going to become like a personal assistant,” he says. “Maybe they’ll be able to look at your skiing habits and suggest a run or even recognize incorrect form and offer teaching advice.”
With Apple phones now equipped to read NFC tags, Ashley says manufacturers adopting the technology is all that stands in the way of a ski experience reminiscent to the eerie world of the movie Her, where our most personal relations are with our phone. “Once they see the potential I think they’ll jump on board,” Ashley figures.
If NFC tags can help me remember where I left my skis in the lodge racks, I’m all for it.