The protective ski apparel made famous by the likes of James Bond is no longer just fiction. A French company called In&motion has created a smart ski vest that can convert into a full body airbag when its complex sensor system detects changes in the wearer’s movement patterns. It looks like your classic piste jacket, but the Smart Ski Airbag Vest will keep any athlete safe on the slopes.
The vest was displayed at CES as a new product in wearable technology, since its high-tech internal systems are its most impressive feature. Using the same type of sensor technology found in smart watches and fitness trackers, the Smart Ski Airbag Vest can detect motion changes that will most likely result in falls. The sensor suite is made up of a GPS, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer. Once a dangerous angle or sudden change in motion or orientation is detected, the vest can deploy and fully inflate in less than one tenth of a second.
In terms of safety, one of the vest’s most important features is the full airbag design. Instead of just protecting the head and shoulders, Smart Ski Airbag Vest protects the hips, back and vital organs – all body parts that see considerable damage when accidents occur on the slopes. In&motion partnered with the French national Skicross team to develop the vest in advance of their World Cup events, and since then, the International Ski Federation has approved the vest for use by professional athletes in competitive ski events.
The Smart Ski Airbag Vest is scheduled to reach the shelves of pro athletics stores by summer 2016. The vest will retail for about $1,200, but even amateur athletes need to stay safe in dangerous terrain. Considering this will be the first time that an airbag-equipped smart vest will be available outside experimental circles and the professional athletics community, it just might be the hot new ski accessory when next winter rolls around.