Riedel RiCam Goggles Camera to Provide Live-POV Shots at Alpine Ski World Championship
Due to the size, weight, and not least because of the safety requirements in skiing, onboard POV images from the athletes’ perspective were not possible. Riedel Communications – also responsible for the wireless transmission of live video signals at Felix Baumgartner's stratospheric leap – has developed a new type of camera for this application. The patented wireless camera solution RiCam is fully integrated into the goggles’ straps, allowing spectacular live images from the perspective of the racers.
The development of the camera took about one and a half years. The RiCam solution consisting of camera, transmitter, battery and strap weighs only 64 grams and is incorporated aerodynamically into the strap of the ski goggles. Special carbon fiber wings protect the components from the slalom gates. For the development Riedel cooperated closely with the International Ski Federation FIS, the Austrian Ski Federation ÖSV, the Race Directors Günter Hujara and Atle Skårdal as well as with several manufacturers of ski goggles and helmets.
"Our goal is always to provide our customers with a competitive edge," says Thomas Riedel, founder and CEO of Riedel Communications. "Nowadays there is serious competition in sports broadcasting between the various kinds of sports. Spectacular pictures are the key to achieve prime time positions. We're happy to help making alpine skiing with the RiCam an even more spectacular viewing experience. "
FIS and ORF expect a lot from the new solution as live scenes from the rider’s perspective during the race and the impressions immediately before the start and after the finish line promise additional dramatic elements. At the World Cup in Schladming ORF uses the new camera in the disciplines of giant slalom, slalom and the nations team event.
Atle Skaardal, FIS Chief Race Director for the ladies Alpine Skiing commented: “FIS is always interested in developing the sport, not just the technical aspects but enhancing the sport’s presentation. The idea of a camera on the racer is not new, however, the current initiative by Riedel finally makes the execution in racing possible. In the development of the solution the key focus for FIS was to ensure the solution’s safety, fairness and appropriate implementation of the technology to our sport.”
He continued: “Clearly this solution it is not to be used as a POV camera but rather it enables the use of interesting short sequences to enhance the coverage. Overall we are very happy about the development, the size of the camera is amazingly small now, this is a big step forward and we are very excited to see it in use in competition in the [men’s] super combined.”
Thomas Riedel, CEO of Riedel added: “This has truly been a team project amongst FIS, OeSV and ORF who have worked on our side to make this happen. From our perspective, the World Ski Championships here in Schladming are just the beginning of the project, not its conclusion. There are numerous additional opportunities for creative implementation of the new technologies that underlie our solution, in skiing but also in other sports.”
He underlined: “Obviously, the goggle camera is not a product for the end consumer. Its price is in direct relation to the size and each camera requires a technician to manage the implementation in practice, not to mention the technical infrastructure required on the course. There are many little pieces that make up the final product, from camera to lense to transmitter to the battery. The carbon protector around the camera that is now crash- and impact-proofed is perhaps one of the most complicated parts of them all.”
Austrian Ski Association President Peter Schröcksnadel said: “This will be the first time that a racer will carry a live camera on themselves during a competition. It was very much in our interest to make sure that this technology was ready to be used here at Schladming and we made it a priority to support this project with our experts and athletes, especially in order to ensure safety.”
Fritz Melchert, responsible ORF TV Director for the ladies races in Schladming underlined: “Thanks to the FIS Alpine Technical Equipment Working Group led by Bernhard Russi, and the help of the working group members Toni Giger and Karl Frehsner we have been able to work hand-in-hand with FIS to develop the solution.
We do not ever expect to cover the full run using these new cameras. Rather the plan is to deliver new images from the start, some from the finish, and short sequences during the run as a mix.”
Michael Kögler, the ORF TV Director for the men specified: “The solution has been tested by athletes in Sölden, Semmering, Flachau and Kitzbühel in race situations and many times in training in different conditions since December. The athletes’ wish was always to make the camera smaller and smaller and the current solution with its 64 g weight reflects their feedback.”
Riedel Communications designs, manufactures and distributes the most pioneering real-time networks for video, audio and communications for broadcast, pro-audio, event, sports, theater and security applications worldwide. The products reflect today’s leading-edge technologies that translate tomorrow's demands into today's solutions. The company also provides rental services for radio and intercom systems, event IT solutions as well as fiber-based and wireless audio & video transmission systems for large-scale events such as Olympic Games or FIFA World Cups. The Company was founded in 1987 and today employs over 400 people located within 11 locations in Europe, Australia, Asia and the Americas.