Computer Vision Applied to Ski Snow Cams

Ski resorts have been using webcams for years to show people the live, real-time conditions on the slope. Now Mobalysis®, a tech startup near Denver, is using those same webcams to interpret the results and convert into workable data. With software called Snow Cam Alert Platform, or SnowCAP™.

For thirty years resorts have been employing people during ski season to wake up at the crack of dawn every morning, bundle up, head out to a large yardstick sitting atop a platform on the snow pack, record the level of new powder, then clear it off for the next day.

SnowCAP™ technology  alerts potential skiers of fresh powder.

SnowCAP™ technology alerts potential skiers of fresh powder.

This employee then heads back to the lodge and reports the results. In the old days this would be in the form of a phone call to the local radio stations which would cascade out to the local skiing population so they could decide whether to take a snow day. The trouble is, by the time they would get the information it would be on the way to work - too late to gear up and hit the mountain to experience the fresh layer of new snow. End result - lots of missed powder skiing, which any experienced skier will tell you can be a life-changing experience. Literally. People have left well-paying careers for a life in the mountains just so they're close to the action when the new snow comes. 

Fast forward to 2016. Nearly every resort has its own high-end webpage complete with social presence, webcam feeds (more on this in a bit), and vacation packages a click away. All this tech and they still employ that same human early-riser to get up, write down the accumulation from the night before and report out accumulation levels. The difference thirty years later is that they log in to a back end web form at a handful of aggregator sites instead of a call to the local radio stations.

SnowCAP™ reads already existing snow cams so no hardware is necessary.

SnowCAP™ reads already existing snow cams so no hardware is necessary.

Earlier I mentioned webcams. Most resorts now have a webcam pointed at the yardstick with a live feed during the ski season. Someone still clears it off every morning but it's a step in the right direction - real-time automation.

Mobalysis is a computer vision software startup using our tech, which we call Snow Cam Alert Platform or SnowCAP™, to read these cam feeds. From there, we can set up text alerts based on user preferences, e.g. text me every time the snowfall rate at Breckenridge jumps above 1" per hour. We can also post to the resorts' social feed based on the same criteria. Mobalysis is working with some US resorts interested in a pilot program for the 2016 ski season.

Another Denver-area company, OpenSnow, is a team of meteorologists using weather forecasting science to pinpoint when and where this elusive powder will appear, giving skiers advanced warning to be there. They have a robust website complete with an app containing their Powder Finder to keep you posted on accurate, meteorologist-quality reports.

If these solutions pan out, you won't have to quit your day job to "shred some fresh", just take more snow days. ■

Mobalysis is an image recognition technology company. For investor inquiries visit our Contact Page.