IT Firm Prepares Student-Tracking App for Swiss Resort's Ski School

Ski and snowboard pupils will be issued LoRa-based radio tags, while access points throughout the resort will determine their location and convey it to the instructor's smartphone via an application.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

As a student was registered for ski school, he or she was issued a LoRa tag and its corresponding identifier was associated with that child's registration information. This data was then captured and forwarded to a cloud-based database that Wuerth ITensis maintains and links to its SkiSchoolTracker mobile application.

Out on the slopes, the students' tags were transmitting their GPS locations to the access point, which forwarded the data to Wuerth ITensis' web-based application via a cellular backhaul. An instructor could then look at her phone to view a list of all students and their distances from her location at any given time.

Wuerth ITensis created 10 special vests with embedded geolocation tags provided by Abeeway.
The pilot worked well, the company reports, but the use of GPS to track the students' locations consumed far too much battery life from the Abeeway tags—in fact, with the GPS position set to transmit once per minute, the battery in each tag only lasted for 8 to 10 hours. "Our goal is [for the battery to last for] one ski season, or 5 months, with one charge," Hagmann says.

Wuerth ITensis is currently working with TalkPool to develop a LoRa tag, which will likely be in a wristband form factor, that it will issue to students and teachers for the technology's rollout at Laax this coming winter. Rather than transmitting a GPS location, a tag will transmit only a unique number, linked to the student wearing that tag when he or she enrolls in class, to a network of access points. Each instructor will also carry a LoRa tag.

Hagmann says the plan is to install up to 16 LoRa access points (Wuerth ITensis and Talk Pool have not yet chosen a manufacturer, he notes) across the resort. The access points will be used to determine each student's location, based on the time of arrival of that child's tag transmission, provided that at least three gateways receive the transmission and can, therefore, triangulate its location.

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