Yeti leaps out in the open to track skiing and snowboarding
By C.C. Weiss
April 14, 2014
While fitness monitors and apps may work for other sports, UK start-up Delazify feels that skiers and snowboarders need a bigger, bolder template. That template is the Yeti, a bulging wrist monitor that makes it easier to see your on-slope performance figures.
Delazify launched last October with the goal of injecting tech, style and design into action sports. The company name signifies its goal of using its products to pull customers away from their televisions and video games and into the open adventure of the great outdoors.
With the help of a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, the Yeti tracks major measures like current/max/average speed, distance, number of runs and altitude. You can also use the Yeti to time yourself between gates for race training. When you're getting pulleyed up the chairlift, you can view your stats on the large OLED display. It also provides time and temperature readings.
The Yeti is powered by a rechargeable battery with eight hours of continuous runtime. That's enough for a very solid day of skiing, quite possibly open-to-close. When you get home, you can upload the data via micro USB slot.
Our first thought when we ran into the Yeti was that it seemed like a nice product ... for a decade ago. With all the free smartphone apps out there, and the upcoming surge of smartwatches with full sensor sets ready to take over, do folks really need a huge, single-purpose ski watch?
But the guys at Delazify made a few good arguments in favor of the design. Unlike a watch, which will inevitably get buried under layers of polypropylene, fleece, Gore-Tex and wrist-cinched gloves, the Yeti is designed to wear on top of the jacket, where you always have access to its large, easy-read face. That's why it's so damn big, and that's why it uses a slap bracelet in place of a standard wristband.
Another aspect of the Yeti's design that sets it apart from other watches is toughness. Unlike the delicate design of many watches and phones, the Yeti is made to hold up to weather, bumps and crashes. It's IP65 waterproof, freeze-proof and shock-resistant, designed to keep functioning through the bumpy ride and extreme cold weather of skiing/snowboarding.
Watches can be near-impossible to operate with gloves on, but the big, color OLED screen and long, rectangular buttons of the Yeti are specifically designed for glove use. Delazify even says you can pilot the Yeti with mitts on.
So, after listening to the pitch, and getting all the specs, I'm a little torn. I want desperately to dislike this thing, the way I dislike everything neon-for-no-reason and oversized to the brink of absurdity. But I can actually relate to where the product is coming from, having wanted to track my snowboarding in the past but finding available options annoying to use. Having to rip my gloves off and dive into my cuffs every run to fiddle around with a watch or using $500 goggles to shoot the info straight into my eye have never been attractive options.
As silly as the Yeti might look around your wrist, it does provide a more user-friendly interface for tracking ski performance. It's always out and accessible, and its big, color screen should be easier to read than a small watch.
One thing that definitely gets a thumbs down is the strap. I get that they went all in on the unique, over-jacket design, but the "slap strap" is a bad idea. Without an external closure, it won't be long before someone (probably many someones) has it fly off in a crash. It may have enough tension to stay put during the average ski run, but there's nothing all that average about slipping on an ice patch or protruding stone and somersaulting a dozen times down the hill. Throw in some deep snow, and suddenly you're out £179.99. There's a reason that you keep other sports electronics strapped or stored close to your body, not dangling from an open piece of pliable metal.
Delazify launched the Yeti earlier this year for £179.99 ($US300). The monitor was used to help Jamie Barrow track his speed when flying across flat snow using Dreamscience electric thrusters.