High speed tracking in continuous Alpine use
A special kind of holiday video is made possible by the skiMovie systems from Skidata, skiline.cc and skiMovie. Skiers and snowboarders can now have their runs on ten slopes in Austria filmed upon request. Of course, the film clip can be downloaded afterwards or sent to friends as a link.
Are you interested? Then simply visit a ski resort with skiMovie, register with skiMovie, go through the turnstile at the starting gate and ski off. Not only the exact time is measured for the run. Instead, the above-mentioned video is also made starring the winter sports enthusiast. Subsequently skiers can log into their personal skiline.cc accounts, enter their ski pass numbers and view all of their skiMovies including their run times. Each skier can then decide individually whether the video should be analysed to improve technique or just serve as a souvenir of a memorable holiday. Professionals can reach speeds up to 150 km/h while downhill skiing, which is often referred to as the supreme discipline in alpine sports.
Very few users of skiMovie systems would probably ever be that fast, although speeds of over 100 km/h aren't a rarity there either, depending on the skier's willingness to take risks. This poses a serious challenge for the technology used because if the tracking is too slow, the cameras used only capture tracks in the snow and miss the skier. At the same time, the technology has to be effectively protected from the weather and sub-freezing temperatures to ensure maintenance-free operation. During the skiing season, outages can result in high follow-up costs if the system has to be temporarily removed from operation for maintenance.
Heart of the system: eneo pan/tilt systems
The eneo type VPT-651 pan & tilt systems are the core of the system. In addition to an endless pan range and hidden cable guide, they realise a speed of up to 100° per second, thus making high-speed tracking possible. There are demanding requirements on the tracking; the dynamic range stretches from very "aggressive" to very slow, which requires constant exchange of data with the central server regarding the current and target positioning of both the pan and tilt axes. Data is exchanged every 25 milliseconds. In doing so, a media converter transfers the RS-485 control signals of the VPT-651 to IP signals which are transferred to the central server independently of the camera video stream to ensure performance which is as high as possible.
Automatic tracking is realised via a PC-based management system which was developed specifically for the skiMovie systems. An average of one or two systems is used per skiMovie system. Franz Holzer, who is responsible for the skiMovie systems at Skidata is impressed with the system, "After a great day on the slopes, skiMovie is a reminder of your skiing experience. skiMovie is more than just a private film, it is a completely new and creative form of marketing. It is a nice souvenir for skiers and snowboarders and provides the resort with new customers and sponsors."
skiMovie systems are not just a benefit for the winter sports enthusiast. They also offer the ski resort operators numerous advantages. The video clips make the ski resort more known because the clips often travel around the world on YouTube after the athletes upload them to the video site. Moreover, lifts can be used to capacity more concertedly, for example by installing the skiMovie system on a less popular slope.