Ski goggle technology has come a long way since the 1960s when Californian goggle pioneer Robert Earl Smith, fed up with his protective eye wear ‘fogging-up’ when skiing, invented a unique vented and double-lensed ski goggle which became so successful its design was adopted as the industry standard. In the wake of Smith’s ground breaking design, innovation in ski eye wear has continues apace, with leading ski goggle manufacturers competing to launch ever better and more ingenious eye wear designed to enhance the ski-ing experience and provide maximum visibility and safety. Here are just a few examples of the most innovative ski eye wear that have resulted from this ongoing research and development.
Light sensitive ski goggles
Lenses that darken in response to sunlight have been available in sunglasses for decades, but new advances in photochromic technology have enabled ski eye wear designers to equip ski goggles with lenses that only react to specific elements of the light spectrum. Consequently, these innovative ski goggles adjust in accordance with the most commonly experienced conditions of bright light, low light and glare to provide optimal visibility and safe navigation of a ski terrain’s bumps, dips and contours, as well as protecting against harmful UV A, B and C rays.
High-definition camcorder ski goggles
How do you show off your skiing skills to others, or capture the beauty of some dramatic piste as you whizz down it when taking conventional photos simply isn’t an option? The answer is to use ski eyewear with an integrated high-definition video camera. Thanks to the miniaturisation of electronics technology, camcorder ski goggles are virtually indistinguishable from regular ski eye wear, but can capture up to two hours’ worth of skiing action – both vision and sound, thanks to an inbuilt and windproof microphone – on an integrated memory card from just a single charge.
GPS enabled ski eyewear
Incorporating Global Positioning Satellite tracking technology into ski goggles seems a bit of a no-brainer in a sport where weather conditions can often change from clear to perilous in the blink of an eye, but there’s more to GPS enabled ski goggles than the simple safety aspect. Wearers are presented not only with the standard view of the piste through their lenses but also with a small LCD display which can present real time data as they ski, including their speed, geographical co-ordinates, altitude, vertical distance travelled and total distance travelled as well as providing an integrated time display, stopwatch and thermometer.
Smartphone integrated ski goggles
Taking the whole ‘in-goggle heads-up display (HUD)’ theme one step further, Vancouver-based ski eyewear innovators Recon Instruments have designed ski goggles that seamlessly integrate with smartphones running the Android operating system (iPhone compatibility is on the way). This means that your in-goggle HUD can display incoming text messages, interactive maps of your ski terrain, and even the locations of your skiing group or partner should you become separated. As well as all of the information regarding speed, temperature and position provided by the GPS-enabled goggles (above), the developers of the smartphone integrated ski goggles believe that every aspect of the skiing experience could be enhanced via the provision of a range of suitable software apps.
Prismatic display ski eyewear
If the last couple of ski eyewear innovations haven’t convinced you that the average skier can nowadays have more gadgets at their disposal than James Bond, then maybe this last example will. Remember Robert Earl Smith, the ski goggle pioneer we mentioned at the beginning? His company, Smith Optics, now produces ski goggles that feature all of the GPS and smartphone integration mentioned above, but with one further innovation. Thanks to the clever use of prism technology, the information seen by the skier appears not in a small window in the corner of their vision but on the virtual equivalent of a fourteen inch display screen approximately five feet in front of them!
John is a keen skier who works for Alpine Action – he loves all things gadgets and ski!