Gadgets: A slippery slope
Irish people with the financial wherewithal to relieve seasonal affective disorder with a winter ski holiday may have to look to alternative remedies in future. Should environmental responsibility not impel us to reduce air miles, the tonnes of greenhouse gas produced by the ski industry and all it entails will contribute to the receding alpine snowlines and glacial depths. But for those of you already booked on a ski trip this year, here are two gadgets to ensure your whereabouts are known should an avalanche or tree trunk take you by surprise.Satellite tracker for Mobile Phones
SportsDo is a software package that can be downloaded to GPS-enabled mobile phones to track the speed and distance travelled by skiers and snowboarders as they whiz down the slopes. A series of ski runs can be mapped out for the day, and performance graphs and charts allow the user to track progress over a specified period.
Meeting other members of your ski party for lunch or après ski is facilitated by a ‘Text Buddies' feature that automatically sends text messages containing your location and other key stats to nominated mobile numbers at regular time intervals set by the user.
A SportsDo web portal site allows users to broadcast their movements to the web as and when they happen, allowing friends to see the mountain-top location and speed at which the skier has descended in two- or three-dimensional maps.
SportsDo software is restricted to phones that operate Windows Mobile or Java technology, and the mobile phone must be GPS-enabled. A Bluetooth GPS accessory is available for phones that do not have internal GPS technology.
SportsDo offers a ‘try before you buy' demo package that may be freely downloaded from the SportsDo site. The demo has a limit of 1km of activity but users can easily purchase the complete package over the phone should they choose to.
More SportsDo Mobile costs £50 at www.sportsdo.net
For snowboarders who become stranded in an off-piste hollow, or skiers separated at the never-abating rush hour of ski-lifts, the Motorola two-way radio provides a cheap and simple alternative to communicating via a mobile phone. The keys are large enough to control without having to remove gloves, while the handset easily slips inside a jacket pocket. Multiple radios can be used together provided the same frequency and sub-channel is used on each device.
∏More T5622 Motorola two-way radios come as a twin-pack with two NiCd rechargeable batteries and a desktop charging unit for £90 (€137) at www.snowandrock.com. Also available from The Great Outdoors, www.greatoutdoors.ie