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Paparazzi Pass Lets Ski Resort Visitors Take Slope-Side Selfies

The solution includes Bluetooth beacons and software provided by SimplyRFID, and an app from DejaView Concepts that lets people capture and then view action videos taken of them.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 31, 2014

Surveillance tracking technology company DejaView Concepts is bringing new meaning to the term "selfie," by releasing a new technology that enables skiers and snowboarders to pay for a service that captures videos of them during the most exciting segments of their runs, and then automatically receive that footage on their mobile phones. The solution, known as the Paparazzi Pass, takes advantage of the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology (part of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard) in a person's smartphone, to receive signals from Bluetooth beacons installed at key points along the slope, to link that individual with specific video footage.

The company has been seeking a system that would automatically pair skiers or other athletes with candid videos of them, says Hans Dietterich, DejaView's cofounder, president and COO. To that end, the firm tested passive RFID tags by placing readers at locations where digital cameras were shooting video, and providing tags to skiers and snowboarders. However, he says, the limitations became clear immediately. Passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags did not provide sufficiently precise location data to ensure that an individual was properly linked to footage captured within that zone while he or she was in the image. In addition, the company sought to make the solution available immediately, enabling users to download an app onto their smartphone and then receive data directly on their handset. While Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology could accomplish this goal, the company explains, it has such a short read range that it would require a phone to be tapped against another NFC device, which would be unrealistic for skiers hurtling down the slope.

As long as a visitor is carrying a phone that is powered up and running the Paparazzi Pass app, he or she will have videos taken whenever coming within range of a Bluetooth beacon, and can then use the app to view those action shots.
Given these requirements, Dietterich says, his company opted for BLE technology, which is supported by newer iPhones, as well as most recently released Android phones. With BLE, a phone or tablet can communicate with a type of active RFID tag known as a beacon, which transmits a unique ID number via the BLE protocol across a distance of 60 feet or more.

DejaView began working with SimplyRFID to develop the Bluetooth beacons, and installed them within the video-coverage zones. It also provided the software that managed beacon data, linked an individual's phone ID information with his or her location, and forwarded that data to an app running on that handset. DejaView installed a trial version of the solution on a single slope at the Wachusett Mountain resort, consisting of two zones, each made up of about three beacons and as many cameras. A trial version of the smartphone app is currently being used, as the iOS app has not yet been available on iTunes.

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