Digital platforms, data analytics or augmented reality – one would not expect to come across these topics racing down a ski slope in the Alps. However, the fact is that cutting-edge technologies and shifting customer behaviors are hitting the slopes and transforming the winter and ski industry.
In this article, WhatAVenture shares its view on the current innovations that are reshaping the industry. The 8 recurring trends we identified are: alternative entertainment, augmented reality, customization, intelligent wearables, platforms, slope analytics and sensors, smart protection and finally sustainability.
But let’s take a quick look what’s behind all these topics.
1. Alternative entertainment
Ski tradition is no more restricted to ski and snowboards. In recent years, innovative products such as snowmobiles, snowbikes, innovative sleds, snowtubing, etc. are offering more flexibility on the slope. Today snowskating with Snowfeet’s innovative “snowskates”, tomorrow racing down a hill with the new e-vehicle from the startup Bobsla – a rise of alternative winter sports reflects the growing opportunities in the ski resorts.
2. Augmented reality
Also, augmented reality has arrived now on the snow and turns the ski slope into a computer game and social event. The Israelian startup Rideon is leading the way here by launching the world’s first smart ski helmet. Their helmet seamlessly blends your actual surroundings with virtual add-ons such as speed, route suggestion, or altitude and lets you communicate with your friends by text messaging, audio or video.
The trend of individualization is now also dominating the ski industry. Individual designs, custom-made skis or boots play a major role on the slope. Do you want a personalized ski? No problem! The Austrian startup + has developed a smart concept that allows you to assemble your individual ski starting from identifying the right material for you until the final design with the help of an online ski configurator.
A relieve for all wearers of glasses among us has now come with the google inserts from the startup SnowVision that produce personalized top-quality googles according to your individual prescription. For your individual google, you can now also show off with your individual “Soggle” – a wearable google cover for protection and cleaning, coming in many different designs you can choose from on the website of the startup Soggle.
4. Intelligent wearables
Insoles that become your personal ski instructor or textiles that regulate your body temperature? The trend of intelligent wearables is, admittedly, not new but however still strongly dominating the startup scene and product releases within the ski sector.
The startups GetCarv and SnowCookie both offer a digital ski coach by making use of wearables. While GetCarv, however, gets the data from the sensors in the insoles, Snowcookie, is measuring skiing parameters via a sensor to your chest and on your skis. Anyways, the goal stays the same: delivering actionable insights to improve your skiing performance.
One would ask: What has a virtual platform to do with racing down a ski slope in nature? Well, in fact, there has been an incredible rise of platforms in the winter industry, including mostly ski instructor booking platforms, but also online rental platforms, like for example Gearo, a digital marketplace that lets consumers browse available rentals by location and activity, with real-time renting capabilities. Checkyeti is probably the most prominent online platform and mobile app when it comes to booking platforms for winter-sports activities all over Europe, including ski courses, private lessons, and many more activities.
6. Slope analytics and sensors
A smart ski slope with full insights on snow data, slope condition or the prediction of dangerous spots? It is not unlikely that this will be the case in the nearer future. The startup is here leading the way by analyzing snow data with its on-the-slope-installed sensors with the aim to reduce snow production and increase safety.
7. Smart protection
Luckily, also security equipment is becoming increasingly digital and smart thanks to intelligent technologies, be it protectors, avalanche airbags or GPS tracking gadgets. Adamsfour, for example, wants to revolutionize back protectors with the world’s first passive rotational spine protection while the South Tyrolean startup Seventwenty promises a new era of the helmet with its innovative helmet technology.
The last trend to mention is a boom factor around sustainability. More and more consumers want to know that their winter sports equipment is produced in an ecological and sustainable way. In this sense, the Swiss startup Earlybirdskis has set it as their goal to build freeskis which beat the top skis available in performance and weight but are also engineered as sustainable as possible.
For established players, it is important to manage these innovations carefully, with the risk of being disrupted otherwise. Innovation units of leading companies regularly monitor and communicate these trends inside the organization with a trend report, identify relevant startups and technology providers to collaborate in proof-of-concept projects or set-up in-house projects to invest in new trends and technologies.
Whether wearables, crazy new sports devices or VR glasses. This year’s winter season is just about to end. Let’s see what new product releases the market for ski and winter sport has in store for us in the next season.
WhatAVenture is an international team of innovation experts, ensuring success with innovation. We focus on enabling organizations, delivering projects and building companies.
Together with Fiera Bolzano, we organize the yearly Startup Village at Prowinter – a specialized trade show for the expanding rental sector of winter and summer sports equipment. During the scouting process for the startup selection, we have immersed ourselves deeply into the startup world and innovations of the winter and ski industry.
Johanna Zauner, Innovation Manager
Stefan Peintner, Partner Alpine Region
Photos by SnowVision, Bobsla and Messe Bozen/ Marco Parisi
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