Skiing showdown: GPS-informed goggles miss the mark

Jay Greene wears Zeal Optics Z3 goggles, which use GPS technology and a heads-up display to let skiers know how fast they’re moving and how far they’ve gone.

(Credit: Patricia Kingdon/CNET)

As a skier, I’ve often wondered how fast I’m skiing when I’m skiing really fast.

Turns out it’s 44.7 miles per hour.

I got my answer from Zeal Optics’s Z3 goggles during a December trip to Whistler Blackcomb mountain in British Columbia. The Z3s are a new, and very expensive, breed of goggles that capture data using GPS technology and flash it on a tiny heads-up display unit at the bottom of the field of vision on the right side of lens. Zipping down Springboard, a wide-open, groomed intermediate run, the tiny display ticked off my speed as the slope steepened and the wind whistled past me.

Zeal is one of a handful of ski goggle makers selling devices that include the heads-up display technology from Recon Instruments, a Vancouver, B.C., company that’s trying to bring hands-free, real-time performance statistics to skiers. The devices include tiny GPS receivers and a set of sensors to provide speed, distance, vertical descent data, and more. I also brought along goggles from Oakley and Smith Optics that use Recon’s heads-up displays to test during my ski trip as well.

Zeal Optics Z3 googles … [Read more]

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