The concept is really simple - a SatNav for ski resorts with fun augmented reality features included. Download the app, load your ski resort (GPS tracking can instantly tell what resort you’re in, and their portfolio of resorts is ever expanding), enter some details about your skiing and snowboarding ability, pop your headphones in and go. The app will guide you through the resort SatNav style with a nice Siri-like voice and ensure you never ski down the same piste twice… And it even introduces a few games you can play along the way too.
It’s an idea so simple and instantly marketable that it boggles the mind that it hasn’t been done before. But on meeting the app developers, it became pretty clear why it hasn't been done before (brace yourself for some fairly confusing tech speech):
“We have developed unique technologies capable to prepare and treat accurate geospatial ski-resort data. The innovative computing algorithms are based on 3D embedded terrain models and some of the features include, user guidance that’s visually represented by two map-modes: our own digital drawings based on classic ski resort maps and a navigational top-down view. Ski all day using the app without the need to recharge the phone. Our data treatment technology is one to two years ahead of competitor’s development."
Call it a labour of love, but Skadi has taken several years of the developers putting together their own geo-data so that the app can track your altitude, speed, and even the gradients of the pistes you’re racing down; all this information comes embedded into the map-in-the-app. This brings the user another level of accuracy. It’s like having a wizened resort guide, let's call him Andre, sitting in your pocket who knows the ins and outs of the mountain like it was the back of his leathery hand.
All of this data lends to a nice, accurate end-of-day report which can summarise the distance you’ve travelled, your fastest speed, steepest descent etc. This, obviously, isn’t virgin territory for skiing apps in general but combined with the SatNav-like features and another, very unusual, feature we'll discuss in a moment... there's a lot of stuff here to get your teeth stuck into.
If you think about it, it’s what the consumer has been crying out for. Everyone knows that time spent on snow is precious, and British skiers endeavour to make every minute count. If exploring the mountain is top of your priority list when you’re on a ski holiday, then the Skadi app could just about be your new best friend in the game. Once you’ve entered your details and ability into the app, the navigation will guide you through the resort and ensure that you never ski down the same stretch twice.
If it wasn’t already enough, the cherry on the cake is that the Skadi app also incorporates an augmented reality feature, tipped to be like Pokemon Go, but instead of catching ‘em all by flicking a CGI Pokeball at them, as you ski and board through the resort, you can pick up certain rewards...
When Mpora went to Tignes to test the app, we found that skiing down certain pistes through certain areas rewarded us with little digital crystals, and more obscure locations led to more obscure rewards like marmots, bears and dwarves. When we met up for lunch I found that I had collected 15 crystals that morning, something I proudly boasted about… Only to find that several others in my group had also picked up crystals, marmots and bears, and soon a small competition kicked off.
"... the Skadi app could just about be your new best friend in the game."
If I’m honest, I wasn’t that bothered about picking up virtual crystals. While it was fun and added a competitive edge, to actually rack up a substantial number worthy of real-time rewards would take time and effort… and that wasn’t my priority.
Our initial worries of ‘hang on, skiing with your phone in your hand? Surely that’s asking for an accident?’ were quelled early on when we were informed that the whole thing is enjoyed through your headphones (so don’t forget to grab a pair of earbuds you can wear comfortably). The SatNav features and the augmented reality gaming are all fed from the app into your ear.
But... but what about those data roaming charges you can face outside the EU? Or the potential to hit your data limit much earlier in the month you'd like?
See, they've thought of that too. Probably one of the nicest features of all was the option where you can download the map and play offline, allowing you to pick up your rewards, rack up some stats and enjoy them all when you’re safely back at the hotel/bar within reach of the Wifi.
Skadi FIS is an app that is genuinely pieced together with the skiing and snowboarding holidaymakers in mind, as opposed to mountain regulars. Which, in my experience, is something hard come by and therefore, all the more valuable.