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National Runner Up

SmartPatrol

A computer-vision powered platform for monitoring high risk areas in recreational resorts.

  • The SmartPatrol in action, monitoring a jump landing zone in a ski resort terrain park.

  • Watch this introduction to the SmartPatrol, filmed on-site.

    Watch this introduction to the SmartPatrol, filmed on-site.

  • The SmartPatrol identifies a fallen skier in the landing zone and tells uphill riders to wait.

  • The SmartPatrol utilizes a super-bright LED display to indicate to uphill riders.

  • The SmartPatrol is designed for the best and worst conditions of the Canadian winter.

  • Eight SmartPatrols are lined up for testing before being deployed with the first customer.

What it does

The SmartPatrol automates monitoring for hazards within dangerous areas of ski resort terrain parks and alerts uphill riders when it isn’t safe to ride. It collects video and statistics on incidents so operators can design safer and more popular terrain parks.


Your inspiration

As an avid extreme skier and professional on-hill photographer, I frequently experienced dangerous landing areas in terrain parks because ski jumps often have landings areas that uphill riders cannot see. Resort operators can’t afford to put safety staff on every blind spot on a hill and injury causing incidents are common. The SmartPatrol was designed to provide an automated, scalable solution to this problem. I hypothesized that if more eyes were needed on the ski hill, computer vision could likely effectively solve this problem.


How it works

The SmartPatrol is a battery powered, pole-mounted system that can be placed in the snow on top of a jump. At the top of the pole is a camera that points at the landing zone. The camera captures a live video feed that is fed into the on-board processor. The video feed is processed with proprietary real-time computer vision algorithms to determine if anything is in the landing zone that shouldn’t be there. The result is then displayed on the integrated traffic light to uphill riders with an intuitive, bright green LED “O” or bright red “X”. The SmartPatrol records every use of a jump, video of incidents and key usage data which is then uploaded via LTE to our data servers. The data is processed further to identify the type of hazard and other metrics important to resort operations and provided to the resort via a custom web access portal.


Design process

The initial MVP was finished in March of 2019. This design included only the functionality required to test the viability of using computer vision to identify hazards in landing areas. The design was waterproofed using duct tape, used dim LEDs and had a short battery life. The MVP was used at a ski resort to test for two days at the end of the ski season and successfully validated the computer vision algorithms. Then, given the feedback on the MVP, a list of the minimum required features to be commercially viable was written. This included the addition of wireless communications and statistics feedback. The SmartPatrol was redesigned over the summer of 2019 to include Wi-Fi connectivity, a web access portal, waterproof enclosures, a removable battery, a faster processor, and a high-quality camera. A small number of units were manufactured and sold to a first ski resort in a closed beta for the 2019-20 ski season. The design was constantly iterated over the course of the ski season. Once the season was ended due to COVID-19, the design was further changed based on feedback from operation. The design now includes LTE connectivity, injection molded design, smart batteries and fewer components. We expect multiple resort deployments in 2021 based on the sales funnel created.


How it is different

The SmartPatrol is a very unique service. There is no service or product that currently offers any sort of real-time feature monitoring for ski resort terrain parks. The only alternative to get real-time landing zone monitoring and indication is to hire a staff member to stand on each jump to watch the landing zone. The staff member will then indicate to everyone up the hill when it is safe to go. This often occurs in freestyle competitions. However, hiring so many additional staff members is prohibitively expensive for regular terrain park use.


Future plans

Our goal is to make the world a safer place to play. We are in production for the 2020-21 ski season. Our goal is to get 100 units in ski resort terrain parks during this season in North America. Following the ski season, we hope to begin adapting the SmartPatrol technology to other recreational applications. We have already begun development for snow tubing parks. Other applications include water-slides, downhill bike parks and blind areas in golf courses. In the future, we plan on utilizing a 360 degree camera to support additional revenue generation opportunities (selling users a video of their jumps) to expand our services at resorts.


Awards

Engineer of the Future Fund - Recipient of $1,000 Concept 5k - Winner of the Spring 2020 pitch competition for $5,000 Norman Esch Enterprise Co-op Award - Recipient of $5,000 Conrad Business School E Co-op Video Award – Recipient of $1,000


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