Last year, we took a look at the Ski Retriever, an answer that made us wonder if there was ever really a question. Since that time, inventor Anthony Kolb has better framed the question and answer and developed a more advanced ski-tracking system. The new AKKA Ski Retriever can lead a skier to his or her skis should they become lost in a deep-snow crash.
"If you're a skier, you know there's nothing quite like getting up to the mountain after a fresh [snow] dump," Kolb says in his Kickstarter video. "But, you also know, with that fresh snow comes more risks. You could be tomahawking down the mountain; you're jumping off stuff you probably shouldn't be jumping off; you've got soft landings; it's all good. Except for when you crash. Digging for your gear sucks."
The AKKA receiver has a one-inch OLED display that provides visual and audio cues about the distance and direction to the radio-based tracking tags attached to the skis. It serves as a means for homing in on exactly what you're looking for without digging fruitlessly.
We can definitely picture a skier throwing a yard sale that dislodges his or her bindings, leaving the skis to be swallowed by the white, powdery abyss. Having to get up from said fall and search around with no clues could indeed suck, especially if the fall sent the skier tumbling down-mountain from the skis.
In addition to skis, the AKKA Ski Retriever can locate buddies that also have one. Kolb and crew are also tinkering with other potential uses. They're thinking of a security feature that uses the ski tags to alert the owner if the distance between the skis changes (i.e. someone has grabbed them). The company also mentions the possibility of using the system for avalanche-victim searching. They still have development and testing to do to make those two features reality, so they may or may not make it to production.
The AKKA Ski Retriever won't be done in time for the holidays – or our list of ski gadgets – but Kolb and his team are hoping to continue development with the help of Kickstarter. They're looking to raise US$100,000 for engineering, testing and other costs, with hopes of having the system on the market by the end of next year. A pledge of $125 gets you an AKKA receiver and two tracking tags. That's a discount off the anticipated retail price of $199 or more.