Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to adjust the performance of your skis on the fly depending on changing snow and skiing conditions?
At Verispellis, we have designed a revolutionary pair of skis that will allow you to change the stiffness of your skis from your smartphone. This innovative technology will allow you to reduce your quiver into a versatile pair of skis.
Being east coast skiers, where we can ski on ice and mashed potato like snow all in one day on the same mountain, we figured it’d be great if we could reduce a quiver into a pair of skis that could handle different conditions by making the skis softer or stiffer as needed. And as they say, the rest is history, and Verispellis was born.
Conceived on Mount Sunapee in NH, where many bouts of ambient, snow and ski temperatures were recorded over different weather conditions, Verispellis was born in Boston, first in our computers, where we designed the ski and simulated skiing on different types of snow and conditions (carving at different angles...) using finite element analysis, followed by building our first fully skiable prototypes.
Our design features a very unique metal, called Nitinol, which belongs to the family of shape memory alloys. Nitinol changes its material properties with changes in temperature. We built the first prototype with a single layer of nitinol sandwiched between the usual wood and fiberglass layers of a traditional ski. Adjacent to the nitinol, we placed small heating elements connected to a lithium ion battery pack. You can turn on the electronics that activate the heating elements with a switch on the battery or remotely (via Bluetooth) using a smartphone app.
When you ski with the heat off, you will have the standard ski stiffness defined primarily by the regular ski components (wood, fiberglass), as the nitinol inside remains unheated and flexible. Upon encountering conditions that would make you want to enhance the stiffness of the skis, all you have to do is turn on the heating elements, which increase the core just a few degrees to make the nitinol change phase, where it immediately becomes stiffer, thereby increasing the overall stiffness of your skis.
You can actually get very fancy with how you lay down the nitinol in the skis during manufacturing. For instance, you can put different nitinol strips on different parts of the skis and heat some as needed, but not others, so that you can change the stiffness of the skis only in some areas, such as in the shovel or in the tail, or whatever combinations that you like.
Alternatively, you could also stack up a couple of layers of nitinol in the same location that change phase at slightly different temperatures. As you start heating up the first element, the stiffness will increase a bit, and then when the temperature continues to rise and reaches the transition temperature for the second layer, the skis get even stiffer. Therefore, you can graduate the stiffness of the skis both in intensity and location as you wish.
All this is controlled with electronics from a smartphone and feedback circuitry built into the skis in our low profile controller box, sitting behind the bindings.
You can turn the heating elements in different parts of the ski on or off based on what your needs are, or you can let the app select your stiffness for you based on the conditions and your style of skiing.
The idea really took off quickly, and everyone in the industry that we communicated with thought that it was one of the most innovative concepts they had heard in the business for some time. A lot of people think this technology has the potential to change the sport of skiing and snowboarding in a significant way. As a matter of fact, due to the large surface area of the snowboard, you can really change the properties of your board more dramatically for riding and park as you wish.
So far, we have conducted many iterations of finite element analysis and have designed the skis and the electronics and built first and second generation prototypes. We used a high quality wooden core ski as our base and machined out the necessary space required for the nitinol, the heaters and the wiring. Upon placing the components into the skis and fishing out the wire ends out of the ski, the remaining process was identical to how a ski is manufactured today.
We have been testing and enjoying our prototypes during the past two seasons, where we have had the chance to ski on them in a variety of snow and skiing conditions. Our resident Olympic Ski Racer, Arman Serebrakian, has put the skis to test and has really enjoyed them.
Verispellis Gear and Pledge prices
Verispellis proudly introduces its first commercial product:
Traditional camber carver skis offered in:
- 2 top designs (Dawn and Dusk)
- 4 lengths: 155, 164, 178, and 192 mm
- Tip: 122-126 mm
- Waist: 90 mm
- Tail: 114-116 mm
- Radius: 15.5-23.5
- Medium flex wood core
- Phase shift in less than 1 minute
The skis will come with:
- iOS and Android App with bluetooth module (Ability to change stiffness from the app and the skis directly)
- One pair of rechargeable batteries (5 hr life) and the charger (the batteries will need to be plugged in to charge after use)
- Owner's manual with product and use description and support line
We have gained some experience over the last few years working with a metal of unusual properties called nitinol. Nitinol is used in many medical applications, where its temperature dependent phase and shape change characteristics are quite useful. Nitinol behaves very differently at different temperatures and can shift from one phase to the other very rapidly, once the transition temperature is reached. This gives it remarkable properties.
The video above illustrates a Nitinol "Jellyfish", where a small amount of current results in nitinol phase change and curling up of the wires (video courtesy of Di Mainstone). In medical applications, nitinol is used to make arterial stents, and intravascular filters among other applications. These stents are very sophisticated 3D meshes that are neatly folded to be delivered to the blood vessels via an intravenous catheter system. They are kept neatly folded, but once delivered to the right location inside the blood vessel and exposed to body temperature, they change configuration and shape, opening the stent and restoring blood flow to an occluded heart vessel, or reinforcing a damaged artery, or deploying a venous filter to prevent clots from making their way to the lungs.
This ability to change phase and shape is typical of the memory metal alloy family, of which nitinol is a part of. One day talking about skiing, we thought that it would be great if we could have a pair of skis that could be used to ski on the different snow types and conditions that one encounters in the east coast in a single day.
Naturally, Nitinol came to mind, and for a while we joked around with the idea of a pair of shape shifting skis but realized that while we could potentially do that, it would be best just to keep the same shape of the ski but change its material properties and stiffness as needed.
That is, design a pair of skis that allows the user to go from standard skis to a stiffer pair as needed and vice versa. As it turns out, we could use our experience with Nitinol to bring this concept to reality.
We set up an independent research program using our free time, working at home on our computers with various designs, using finite element modeling to determine the ideal amount of nitinol and its distributions within a ski to induce relevant changes in stiffness.
We also toyed with the bluetooth app and the concept to wirelessly engage the skis for phase change. This flexibility allows the skier to adjust his/her skis either directly from the skis or by using an app. The skis will be directly linked with the owner's mobile device to allow only a single entity to modulate the behavior of the skis. It took about three years just to collect enough data, design and optimize, file patent applications, and develop our first and second generation prototypes that are the precursors to our first commercially available product for the 2018-2019 season through this campaign.
Does the Nitinol addition make the skis much heavier by weight?
The amount of the nitinol metal embedded in our skis is not much heavier than the Titanal top shelf used in current skis. The weight of the other components (heating element and electronics) is negligible, compared to the weight of the bindings. The battery adds some weight, but this is dependent upon the capacity of the battery chosen by the user.
How long will the material last?
The material will last as long as the ski is around and is not damaged. The material phase transition can occur indefinitely without adversely affecting its properties.
Will this technology work for snowboards?
Actually, due to the large surface of a snowboard, one can significantly change the properties of the board for riding and park activities with this technology. So far, we have concentrated on getting our prototype skis out. But, we will most definitely work on incorporating our technology into high quality snowboards soon. We love all snow sports and life on the mountain. So, we’ll do our best to make sure all snow sports enthusiasts can enjoy the benefits of this technology.
Will this technology help prevent ski injuries?
Given our experience with orthopaedic injuries and orthopaedic biomechanics, we think that this technology has the potential to reduce knee injuries, which happen frequently at low speed conditions. However, we do not have any data to support this at the moment. Being scientists, our goal is to conduct a study to better understand loads and displacements on the knee joint using a variety of skis and snow conditions. That type of work is more along the lines of the medical and bio-mechanical projects we usually do in our day jobs. So we will get to that down the road.
What happens on a warm sunny day to a ski with Nitinol in it? Would it become super stiff even if the heating elements are not being “turned on” by the battery pack?
Fortunately for this technology, skis are only used on cold snow. As long as the skis are in contact with snow, they maintain their normal state, since ski temperature on the inside and outside of the ski does not vary too much with ambient and snow temperatures. During our development process, we instrumented ski parts on its top, bottom and the middle over a variety of ambient temperatures and observed very little ski core temperature change. However, you have a point. For instance, in a room temperature store, where the ski is displayed for sale, the ski will be in a transitioned stiffer state, unless you move the ski to a colder temperature. Stores would have to demo the skis in a freezer for a customer to appreciate the stiffness change in a retail setting.
Our Founders' Edition skis are the result of countless hours of hard work, dedication and passion for skiing from our team!
Our campaign is guided and promoted by Beyond Buzz, an online marketing agency specializing in crowdfunding campaigns through social media engagement.
For additional inquires, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Risks and challenges
We have spent the past 2-3 years working on our Founders' Edition skis by better understanding how nitinol responds to temperature changes on ski slopes, running simulations, building prototypes, testing and optimizing the final design.
The end goal is a sleek and highly innovative carver ski built on high quality skis for superior ride and on demand modulation of stiffness and flex.
We have a partnership with a manufacturer of quality skis to build our products and have sourced nitinol components for our skis. We have designed the mobile app and the electronics circuitry needed for the feedback and communication in house. We will work closely with our partners for timely delivery of the products.
We have tested our skis for some time to offer a high quality and unique product to skiers worldwide. Our academic R&D backgrounds has been essential in helping us with this process, as we are keenly aware of the intricacies of design, optimization and scaling.
While the guts of our skis look complicated, their manufacturing process is strikingly similar to those of traditional skis, with minor variations here and there. We have been able to streamline this process by making a few, dare we say, "smart" changes to how we do things to allow us to use established ski manufacturing practices to make our skis.
Kickstarter is all about bringing new and exciting products to the market, and with your support, we aim to achieve that by offering you the most versatile and innovative skis to date!
Team Verispellis wishes you happy skiing and riding and thanks you for your support,Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)