Whether you’re a fan of skiing, snowboarding, or neither, there’s no denying that the latest Israeli crowdfunding campaign has the potential to take your run down the slopes to the next level. RideOn claims to be the first augmented reality (AR) ski goggles available on the market that will allow you to interact with friends and experience video-game like interfaces while you’re taking on the slopes.
Challenge your friends, and yourself, on the slopes
Created by Israeli co-founders Ori Kotek and Alon Getz, RideOn’s next-level ski goggles allow wearers to view their ski path through layers of augmented reality that appear as if they are being projected on the snow 15 feet in front of you. The wearer can then interact with the goggle’s features using eye movements, which allow them to play games and challenges, call and video message their friends on the slopes, send quick text messages and navigate their way through the pistes. The interactive technology is made possible by a number of sensors, a high-definition video camera and network connectivity that are all part of the goggles, which also feature, like any other top-of-the-line ski goggles, anti-scratch, anti-fog and helmet compatible lenses. And once RideOn’s crowdfunding campaign is complete, the company will release a free mobile application that will connect with the mobile app to let you track your progress, interact with other riders in your vicinity, your friends back home, and instantly upload your skiing videos online.
Though many in the tech world have already declared the death of the first augmented reality glasses, Google Glass, some two years after they were released, RideOn has taken the “extreme” angle that seems to hold greater potential. Although I myself am not a skier or snowboarder and hate the snow, the game and challenge feature of the RideOn glasses makes me want to get myself on a mountain and start learning. The possibility of challenging your friends could take the sport skiing to the next level, out of its individualized sport niche. In addition, the ability to connect with your friends on the mountain and to navigate the slopes without using a map makes it seem like RideOn could become as essential to skiers and snowboarders as wearing a helmet. A week into their crowdfunding campaign, the RideOn team has raised over 70 percent of their $75,000 funding goal, so it’s a safe bet that they will meet their goal, or raise even more, before the campaign closes on February 19th. Currently, a pair of the goggles can be purchased on Indiegogo for $499 and the products are expected to ship by September 2015, if the funding goal is met.
Not the first AR goggles to hit the slopes
Some potential downsides of RideOn’s AR ski goggles are the price and the weight. Regular ski goggles cost between $100-$250 on average and weigh much less, about 100 grams, in comparison to RideOn’s goggles that weigh 240 grams. The added price and weight are obviously due to the “heavy” technological specs, but for the majority of first time and occasional skiers, the fun user experience won’t convince them to dish out their wallet for more expense ski gear. This product is geared towards regular and professional skiing fanatics that want to be the coolest person on the slopes. Another potential downside of the RideOn goggles is the weight, which could prove a dangerous factor if a skier is injured or is prone to accidents.
Last but not least, though RideOn claims to be the first pair of augmented reality goggles, that’s simply not true. Sporting brand Oakley came out with their own augmented reality goggles that track speed and connect you to your smartphone via Bluetooth two years ago. Another brand called Zealoptics released their own AR ski goggles with GPS and performance tracking in 2011. There are a number of other companies that have tried to crack the ski goggle market and simply haven’t made it, which may be because the product is geared at a rather slim audience, namely lovers of ski and advanced technology. Maybe with its video game-like feature and social connectivity RideOn will be able to go where no ski goggles have gone before, but you’ll have to wait until February 19th or try the goggles out for yourself to find out.
Photos: courtesy of RideOn