How many of us can truly say they make a living out of snow? Professional skiers and snow blower manufacturers aside, coming up with a career that relies heavily on the omnipresence of the cold, white substance we Northerners sometimes even consider an annoyance isn’t that obvious.
Latvian startup Snowision however is one company that would frankly be out of business should there not be any snow laying about.
Born through the Latvian science startup incubator Commercialization Reactor on the 5th of October, 2013, Snowision specializes in developing fully automatic, remotely operated small sized cameras for projecting 3D maps of snow coverage and its characteristics. This technology makes snow behaviour prediction possible by showing the depth of snow cover, as well as multiple snow parameters like temperature, melting and freezing points; water intensity and levels of ice crust through a wide area.
Basically this means that if you’ve got a pile of snow you, for some reason, want a three dimensional mapping of, the guys from Snowision will gladly help you with that. But then again you might ask yourself “why would anyone possibly want to have a 3D map of snow?”, which in all honesty is a fair question to ask. We reached out to Aleksey Korabovsky, Snowision’s tech experienced CEO, who gave us a few examples where Snowision’s services come in handy.
“There are at least four main [Snowsion] technology applications:
- Ski resorts: snowpack monitoring that will allow to reduce artificial snow production significantly (That means not only huge cost saving for ski resorts by less water and electricity consumption, but also saving climate in Alpes, which is damaged by regular bulks of artificial snow delivered to the environment). This is the major direction we are working on at the moment.
- Road maintenance – integrating our city or highway monitoring system will allow us to monitor snow and ice presence on roads online, so that timely alarm and effective plans for road maintenance services can be made
- Ice depth control on lakes and rivers – e.g. in municipalities or as personal tool for fishermen
- Meteorological equipment for snow monitoring.”
The Snowision technology is based on passive microwave sensing of the snow cover and atmospheric lightning. In other words, sensors are set to read microwaves radiated by snow, oxygen and water vapors from the atmosphere in different wavelengths, resulting in data on depth of snow cover; snow temperature in any depth; or data on the snow’s structure for example.
The Snowision technology has been entirely developed by the company’s R&D team: physics and meteorology scientists/researchers, who have more than 15 years of experience in said fields. In early July this year, Snowision attracted a €50 000 investment from the Imprimatur Capital Seed Fund, one of the main investors in Commercialization Reactor’s protegees. In addition, Snowision has received backing from Amber Sea Business Angel Club and some private investors, but, as Korabovsky puts it, “ [we] are looking for the next stage investment already. Hopefully we will still continue cooperation with Imprimatur Capital, but we are evaluating all alternative possibilities as well.”
Snowision current stage is clear, and first major testing operations are underway.
“Now we are building next version of prototype exactly for use at ski resorts and going to test it this winter in French Alps together with our French partners – experts in ski resorts – and one meteorological station. After that we are going to make the first product version, which will be available for purchase and installation for the 2015/2016 winter season.”