Technology on the mountain
Posted by Kirby Winters on January 8, 2014
I just returned from a week long ski trip to Canada. It was an excellent time to get away with the family. We had fun in the snow and got a good chance to unwind. The fun thing about technology is that you can get away while still getting critical work done. I remember vividly after graduating college (many years ago now) thinking how great it would be in the future to be able to travel and not feel like you were abandoning your work. Owning your own consulting practice and being involved in a number of partnerships means you cannot let things drag for a few days. People need feedback quicker than that: customers, partners, clients, potential clients.
We really have reached that future in a lot of ways, but keeping it managed in an efficient manner is still a challenge. The post PC era is upon us and I feel I can almost do everything I need from my iPad, but not quite as well as I can with my laptop. I could not bring myself to recommend to a friend that they get the latest Surface from Microsoft. Sorry Microsoft. I am not convinced that a hybrid is the way to go. At least not yet. I still recommend an iPad for ease of use, simplicity of integration and overall capability. And I still lug around my Windows 7 laptop. I think the deciding factor is how easy an iPad is to turn on quickly, write or read something, then turn it off.
I was also fascinated how much technology I saw every day on the ski slope. It was not odd to see someone with their helmet mounted GoPro cameras. This used to be something reserved for the extreme skiers. Now it seemed that anyone just wanting to record their own experience had one, no matter how tame their skiing (such as myself). Every time I checked my WiFi to connect to my GoPro camera so I could see what it was seeing and start and stop the video, I saw other GoPro WiFi hotspots listed. It was very cool, actually. How much video did that produce on the mountain? Who are all these people? Where are they sharing? Can I go someplace and see everything that was recorded on the mountain last week? I checked YouTube and Vimeo and saw some clips. Maybe I should ask the NSA. Ha.
I think my favorite thing was watching people shove their iPhones into their helmets to call their friends on the mountain. Now that helmets have become so common, I guess the handsfree hack works fine as long as you do not drop your iPhone in the snow. The entire mountain had great mobile phone coverage so it was easy to keep up with everyone no matter where we were. I guess when Mount Everest got full cell coverage last year from China Mobile, it really showed how much coverage we now have all over the world for our phones.
So I wonder what is the next thing for technology on the mountain. I had my mobile phone, GoPro camera, backup battery with solar cells and bluetooth headset. On yes, and I was wearing my Fitbit to track all of my exercise. I do not think I would have had any idea of how connected I would have been while skiing if you had asked me what to expect 10 years ago. I suspect all these things will converge into one device like they have been doing for many years. The fitbit tracker will be in the phone and a bluetooth controlled camera for your helmet cam. It is going to continue to be fascinating.