Optical inspection takes to the slopes

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The German Ski Federation (DSV) is using optical inspection techniques to characterise the different types of snow in order to optimise skiing equipment for the German ski team. Reference data on weather and snow crystal conditions is being gathered so that skiers can apply the correct amount of wax to the underside of their skis.

In collaboration with Enrico Heisig, the DSV’s chief engineer responsible for materials R&D, and the ski wax producer ZIPPS GmbH, a special portable microscope designed to inspect the different types of snow and its properties has been developed by German company Opto.

The reference guide will enable manufacturers to optimise their wax compositions and athletes to maximise the performance of their skis.

Portable and compact, the Opto snow microscope required a special combination of illumination in order to visualise the shape and size of snow crystals in situ. The inclusion of a standard DSLR camera mount makes it a highly portable microscope while enabling rapid, instant assessments of the exact snow situation. The image analysis is then performed on a laptop with a simple software measurement interface designed by the company DHS.

The instrument was designed specifically for use outdoors, with focus on robustness and portability. The instrument features integrated focus and various optimised LED illumination modes.