Review: Carv Digital Ski Coach can improve your trails
Given the insatiable appetite for new equipment, it is surprising that wearing technology is not a big deal in winter sports. The various applications and settings of the smartwatch provide data on speed, altitude and distance from the track, although nothing that we would find particularly useful or revolutionary.
But with its insole and app for ski boots full of sensors, Carv has other ideas, offering the promise of real-time training and performance analysis through 72 sensors of pressure and movement. As you ski, your technique breaks down into 13 live metrics – based on balance, edge, rotation and pressure – before the software gives you a performance rating (your “Ski: IQ”) and offers customized tips, hints and training exercises to help you help you improve.
Developed with contributions from PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America), CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Association) and Inter in the UK, Carv says it has analyzed millions of turns to ensure it gives users the best advice while offering tried and tested training exercises you would expect from a human instructor. But can WIRED staff do better skiing in just one weekend?
Installation of Carv insoles involves pulling out the ski boot pad and gluing the cables with duct tape (included in the box). It’s not the most elegant or simple installation, but step-by-step videos are available in the app to make things easier. If you are buying through retailers, we advise you to get a professional who will fit them.
Once the covers have been replaced and the battery attached to the outside of the boot, you’re ready to calibrate, which means syncing with the app via Bluetooth and following a few on-screen instructions.
At 3mm thick, when fitted, the insoles and battery attached to the outside of the boot didn’t bother and we couldn’t feel them. The whole setup adds just 296 grams to the weight of each boot. When we added our vital data to the app and put on the headphones, we were ready to ski. Using headphones – in our case AirPod Pros – allows you to get real-time training while skiing and more detailed training on the lifts, without disturbing others. One recommendation is to use low-profile headphones, as they can be uncomfortable when worn under a helmet. The best option would be a cover with built-in Bluetooth speakers.
The carv system is based on determining Ski: IQ, a quantified assessment of your skiing technique that should increase over time if you follow training. The average skier will achieve around 100, the average among 110-125, the experts 125-140, and the professionals 140+.