PUSH Snowboarding Ideas

So, Nokia and Burton have some cool stuff going on with PUSH Snowboarding. The basic idea is to take a pile of sensors, put them on the board/rider, connect wirelessly to a Nokia to log the data, and Do Cool Things. And they’re not just doing them themselves, everyone can join in the fun! They’ve open sourced all the code, and published all their test data.

This has so much potential, I can think of so many cool applications of the tech. I first started thinking about it when I chatted with the guys at Nokia World 2010 – they told me they were hiring a developer, and I put serious consideration into applying. I was put off in the end, as it was just short term and the interesting bit to me is what you can do with all the data once you can collect it. Well they’re now at that stage, so I thought I’d write up some of my crazy ideas :-)

Crazy idea warning. This sort of thing is the sort of stuff I’m good at – doing clever stuff with computers is my career. However these are just ideas. I have a good idea how to make some of them work, and I’ll talk about that, but I don’t expect to have the free time to implement them. Mostly as I’ll either be starting a new job very soon, or continuing a full time hunt for another one. But I think it’s still worthwhile to write this, as previous experience suggests people quite like hearing my crazy ideas ;-) Oh, and I’ve time to kill sat on a plane/in an airport.

There is a competition running to come up with things to do with the project. Sadly it closes tomorrow, so you (or I) don’t have time to knock up any of these ideas to enter. I don’t know if this counts as an entry from me or not, and I’m not too bothered. As I said, I don’t think I’ll have time to create any of these ideas. And it’s 11 years since I was last on a snowboard anyhow (<whispers>skis are better anyhow</whisper>) – though I guess I’m not one to say no to free trips.

I’d ideally have diagrams and more links etc to go with this, rather than a load of text, but as I said, I’m on a plane! It’s a bit awkward. If someone wants further info to implement an idea, fire away in the comments and I’ll try and get to that next week.

So without further ado, the ideas:

Live Feedback


You’re on the hill with your mates, N8s in your pockets and the push app running, maybe some headphones in your ears. You decide to have a little trick contest, each taking turns with your best tricks on the jumps and rails. You land a solid 360, applause rings in your headphones, fall off a rail – boos from the crowd. Watching your mate, he gets a nice big air – you pull out your N8 and rate it an 8, tapping the score on the screen as it asks you “rate Jay’s trick!” Jay gets to the bottom of the park, checks his phone and sees he won! One click and he’s updated his facebook status – now everyone knows his score and which of his friends he beat.

How would that work?

The basic idea is that there is live feedback, from a server (possibly running on one of the phones) to each of the other phones. Then when one phone detects a trick (airtime or unusual orientation change etc) it pushes this to the server. The others receive this as a message, and so pop up a GUI to the user asking them to score whoever’s trick it was. Based on the score, louder/more sustained applause could be played to the user. The phones track the score, and when everyone votes to finish the contest, the winner is announced, along with an option to share the results to facebook or twitter.

What are the challenges? Feature detection for the tricks possibly, but it’s probably not that bad. All that needs be detected OS that something has happened – the other users score, or could choose “no trick”. The client server stuff is all simple and fairly standard, and needs hardly any data transfer.

Trick Disco


Top of the run, pop your bh-505 bluetooth headphones on, favourite track playing loud. Head down the hill, as you hit a jump the music slows and sustains….enjoy the hang-time…till you smack down to land and it speeds up again. Or maybe the music changes as you sweep down the hill, faster when you’re fast, slows when you slow. Music to match your riding.

How would that work?

Well the basic idea is to use the sensors to detect airtime and speed, and control a soundtrack. Simple things could be just slowing and sustaining a note when in the air, get a nice audio slow-mo cue. More complex could be generative music, to match what the rider is doing. Think of modern computer games where music matches the on screen action.

Tweet pipe


You’re a snowboard fan, you follow all the competitions, the rider’s twitter accounts… Imagine being able to follow the half pipe on twitter, or maybe the boarder cross track. These accounts tweet what’s happening automatically – “rider X just dropped in for a practice run”, or “rider Y came 1st with top speed of 30mph, rider z crashed out”. You tweet back: “@burtonHalfPipe great run!” – it pops up live on the scoreboard for everyone to see.

How would that work?

Pretty simple idea, the N8 and sensors give you who’s in the pipe/on track, and basic features like crashes and top speeds. This is used to auto tweet from the pipe/track itself what’s going on. Great way for fans to see when their fav rider is on course, or practicing.

Learning Tricks


You ride down the hill, whenever something anomalous is detected in sensor input the phone beeps, if it was a trick you meant to do, you tell it what it was, or select from previous tricks. The phone learns the tricks, getting better and better at identifying them. Eventually you have enough data for auto trick detection, or at the least an annotated data set.

How would that work?

How? The ideas to apply basic pattern recognition techniques to build a classifier for tricks, based on the probability distribution representing each trick in terms of sensor inputs. I’ll not go into details here, but it could be a great way to avoid the hard problem of feature identification.

Headset UI


No need to get your phone out your pocket, with a pair of BT headphones on it reads out the menu options to you, scrolling through them using the next/back audio controls. Change modes, choose music, or use it for another idea in this post.

How would that work?

How? Pretty simple, use the text to speech API in symbian and the A2DP BT API for the controls. Potential to make everything done with push N8 better.

Trick to ‘tube


Imagine, you’re at the half pipe, or playing in the park, doing your best tricks ( and best crashes). Get to the bottom of the hill, there’s a touchscreen by the lift, select your name. It shows you a 1min video edit of all your tricks and crashes, one click and it’s on YouTube, shared to your friends on twitter and facebook. Now they’ll believe you when you say you landed that 720!

How would that work?

How? Jumps and pipes etc are in known places, easy to cover with static networked cameras. With the push snowboarding app you know when and where riders are, when they’re in shot for each camera. Sensors tell you tricks or crashes. So you use the feature data to pull out relevant video segments and edit them together automatically.


2 Responses to “PUSH Snowboarding Ideas”

  1. Great ideas! The next thing I would like to add is using the camera as well.

    Imagine being at the base of the run (or on the run itself, at the top?) take your N8 out and point the camera at the run. Imagine seeing your own run as it was being run down hill. Different colours, thickness, stars, symbols showing what you did (Maybe even the best run by others?). Play it back in real time or have it as a static trace.

    Or better even, being able to see other riders being traced on the mountain live! Imagine being able to see your friends on the run with colourfull trails behind them :) (kinda like Solipskier)

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