Building hardware for a safer future for ski resorts

Platforms

Desktop, iOS, IoT

Deliverables

Product Strategy, UX Design, Software Development

Creating safer experiences for athletes

Precision Approach is a hardware and software product that helps skiers approach and make jumps more safely. It integrates a Lidar sensor with an app and server that tracks an oncoming skier’s speed and their landing zone, then provides feedback on whether they need to speed up, slow down, or abort their attempt.

With decades of experience within ski slopes and instruction, the Precision Approach team sought our expertise to design their marketing website, develop a user-friendly mobile app, and contribute to the creation of hardware alongside supplementary software for their product.

Diving deep into the realm of skiing

Through a series of stakeholder workshops, our team closely collaborated with Precision Approach to gain insights into the skiing industry. We aimed to understand the specific challenges and journeys faced by ski resort managers and skiers, particularly during peak ski seasons.

From our workshop findings with Precision Approach, we distilled four goals for our project that cater to both business and user needs:

  1. Prioritize safety and prevent injuries.
  2. Improve users’ ski skills and overall confidence while skiing.
  3. Foster social connections between skiers and build reputation.
  4. Ensure leisure and convenience for skiers’ lifestyles

Reaching the right people at the right time

Our ideation and design processes began with the creation of a marketing website with the goal of reaching resort managers who would be interested in installing Precision Approach towers alongside ski jumps at their resorts. While brainstorming, we put together three distinctive visions for the marketing website, each employing different strategies for targeting the ski resort industry, offering unique value propositions to ski resort managers.

The first iteration focused on emphasizing the value of Precision Approach, generating interest in safety for resorts and better jumps for athletes, and included lead collection features. The second version focused on spreading awareness of an overall lack of general safety knowledge within ski industries, leveraging educational resources as a way of generating lead interest. The third version was focused on showcasing early stages of the product, providing updates for stakeholders and case studies highlighting Precision Approach’s enhancements for resorts throughout development.

Each iteration took on a different form of storytelling to communicate the overarching values of Precision Approach to both ski resort managers and athletes interested in the product. Ultimately, we decided to move forward with the first iteration as it was likely to appeal the most to both business owners and skiers.

Building a platform for customers

With the website now ready to be shared with professionals within the industry, Goji continued along the product roadmap to accomplish two main milestones. The first goal was to create a mobile app that would accompany the software. Geared towards athletes, the app would provide exclusive ski jump footage while also serving as a social platform for seamless video sharing within the skiing community. The second goal was to confirm, build, and effectively test software to be used alongside Lidar hardware based on a prototype provided by Precision Approach.

After compiling an MVP feature set during our discovery workshops with Precision Approach, our team designed a mobile app for users to view and share ski jump footage at resorts with Precision Approach towers. This included the implementation of a tiered monetization model that made it accessible for seasonal skiers without creating a significant barrier to entry.

Jumping from software to hardware

Following the app’s design, our team focused on seamlessly integrating Lidar technology by creating and developing software that tracks oncoming skiers’ speed, determines their optimal landing zone, and offers real-time feedback on adjustments needed, whether it be speeding up, slowing down, or aborting their attempts. Crucially, this information would be recorded and conveyed to users through a light indicator on a physical tower that would be installed alongside a ski jump.

Our challenge was ensuring that the hardware not only functioned accurately, but was also visible in the challenging snowy conditions typical of a ski jump environment. This integration would effectively enhance the safety and precision of ski jumps, providing skiers with invaluable insights to optimize their performance while recording footage that could be purchased by the user through the mobile app.

It’s alive

After some trial and error, our team was able to successfully get a series of prototype towers up and running. With functioning test towers, the Precision Approach team was finally approved by the general manager and legal team of Sierra Tahoe to install test towers at their resort.

Currently, these towers are being used to collect data and tweak the technical backing behind the towers, with adjustments made to lidar object detection, clustering, and calibration systems based on feedback from skiers. With the installment of these towers, Precision Approach is able to access skier data anywhere as the hardware regularly self updates and configures themselves, and sends constant updates to the database.

A safer future for ski resorts

Integrating both software and hardware proved to be a unique challenge, emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and adaptability. After the upcoming ski season in 2024, Precision Approach and Goji will continue to use collected data from skiers and make ongoing adjustments to tracking speed, measuring distances, and determining skier sizes. These adjustments will provide proper guidance to skiers by telling them the proper speed they need to go at and ensuring their safety for an optimized ski jump.