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

The high number of access points should provide adequate coverage across the resort, says Stefan Lindgren, TalkPool's chief technology officer. "The accuracy [of geolocation using LoRa access points] is dependent on signal propagation condition," Lindgren explains. For example, if a tag has a clear line of sight to an access point, its distance will be more precisely determined than if structures or geographic features interfere. The rate at which a tag transmits its number will also impact accuracy.

However, Lindgren says, "the benefits from the [LoRa] solution are that the network estimates the position without impacting the device cost, battery consumption" or the data transmission time. "Another benefit is that it works also in environments where GPS signal cannot be received, such as indoors."

The tag is currently being developed for the coming season. This mockup shows two form factors; the wristband version will likely be chosen.
If an instructor does not immediately see a given student during her visual check, her smartphone will show her the distance and direction of the individual for whom she is searching, relative to her own location.

As a fail-safe, the tags will also have a GPS receiver. The tags will not be set to transmit GPS, Hagmann notes, but if a particular student is missing and his tag is not being read by enough access points to perform triangulation, one of the access points reading his tag will be able to turn on the tag's GPS receiver through an over-the-air command. Once the GPS data is retrieved, the teacher will be able to find the missing student's location on the map in the SkiSchoolTracker app.

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