Making a smart ski goggle without snow

UBCO engineering student creates a better ski goggle.

Sometimes you need to think outside the box, or in the case of one engineering student, outside the season.

For UBC Okanagan  electrical engineering Master’s student Fazle Sadi, he faced the challenge of developing algorithms for a high-tech pair of ski goggles in the middle of summer.

So Sadi secured the instruments needed for his tests, stuffed them into a backpack and headed for the hills—literally—where he enlisted the aid of a volunteer mountain bike rider to simulate a snowboarder getting some air time.

The rider strapped on the instrument-laden backpack and took off from a hand-made dirt jump again and again so Sadi could get a series of readings.

Sadi is playing a key role in refining the technology in the already high-tech goggles featuring head-mounted display systems that could soon be the must-have item for skiers and snowboarders.

He is helping to optimize technology for Recon Instruments which makes head-mounted displays for ski and snowboard goggles.

The system has GPS and motion sensors, giving users real-time feedback on their speed, altitude, vertical distance traveled and total distance traveled, as well as temperature, time, a stopwatch and a run-counter mode.

The technology will also link via Bluetooth to the user’s smartphone, wireless video cameras and will boast navigation and buddy-tracking capabilities.

Working with Recon’s research team, Sadi is developing complex algorithms—to crunch data from sensors such as GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope and digital compass—that will make the goggle display systems even smarter. The goal is giving users instant and in-depth readouts on the height, drop and air time of each jump.

For instance, snowboarders can immediately fine-tune their approach, take off and airborne technique to catch more air for better stunts.

“From a video, you can’t get accurate measurements and you have to wait a long time for that information. With the goggles, you have the information right away,” said  Sadi.  “It has a processor in it so it can compute everything right away.”

The work was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada with the help of a $22,000 grant.


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