EpicMix 2.0

I’m not going to lie. I love EpicMix. If you don’t know, EpicMix was launched last ski season at the various Vail mountains as a way to, as they say it: “Capture. Connect. Share.” your mountain experience. The challenge was how to capture the information about your winter on-mountain experience without interfering with your on-mountain experience. Enter RF (Radio Frequency) technology enabled ski passes.

RF is the same technology that allows the lift operator to scan your ticket right through your jacket with out you having to keep it visible. Nice, right? Now to seamlessly “capture” what you’re doing on the mountain, they installed RF readers at the entrance to every ski lift in the system to know what lift you rode. Along with that comes the vertical footage to be gained on that lift (what goes up must come down, right?) and that vertical footage gets tallied for the day and for the season. You can even set it up to share and receive notifications when your friends are on the mountain and connect to meet up. Awesome, me thinks.

Along with that, you earn various “pins” for your accomplishments. Like the “Mr. T” pin for riding the T-bar at Breckenridge 5 times, or “Goggle Tan” for skiing on a day that got warmer than 50F. Maybe it’s the Boy Scout in me after earning Merit Badges that makes something like this appealing. But whatever it is, I find it incredibly entertaining and super fun to see what my friends are earning and to compete for standing placement amongst my friends. Sadly, I don’t ski enough to compete with those who are racking up millions of vertical feet (it would be nice if there was a designation for ski patrol, instructors and the such. Clearly they have an advantage).

So, that’s all great and is soooo the 2010/11 ski season. The EpicMix team has been taking in a lot of feedback from the previous season and have incorporated some neat new features for the next version of EpixMic including:

EpicMix Photos: Say good-by to the $35 5×7 prints you can by at the bottom of the mountain that the photographer at the top of the ski lift takes of you and your family. EpixMix will give you FREE digital copies of screen resolution images to share on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere on the web. The photographer takes your photo and scans the RF tag for each person in the photo. The photo is automatically linked to your EpicMix account and is free for you to share in any way you want. It’s essentially “scan-tagging”. If you want the full resolution image to make prints that’s just $19.95. Make all the prints you want, whatever sizes you want, forever.

Still keen to take your own photos? Fine. Use the free EpixMix Mobile App to upload photos you take with your mobile phone or upload them to the website from your own digital camera when you get off the mountain.

How To Earn Pins. Last season, it was a bit of a scavenger hunt. Nobody knew what pins were out there or how to earn them. This could be figured out, as I often did, by seeing what pins others had earned and then seeing how they earned it. Admittedly, I searched for a catalogue of pins to see what else I could go after. When I found out not having such a list was part of “exploring” the mountain, I was fine with that and started to imagine what else I could get a pin for. Then I would go and ski that. Sometimes I got a pin, sometimes I didn’t. The one I’m most disappointed about (I know, woe is me) was the attempt to get what might be called the Summit County Hat Trick, or Turkey. My girlfriend (who was equally addicted to earning pins) started our day at Breckenridge, then went to ski Keystone for lunch and ended up at A-basin to finish the day and then head back to the Frontrange. Our first clue was the total lack of EpicMix RF readers at A-Basin. Then realizing they just have a deal with Vail pass holders but aren’t really part of the network. Oh well. Now I can look up what pins are out there and what to go after.

Pin In Progress. If you can’t be bothered with searching the pin list to see what you can or want to do, you just have to check into your account to see what pins you’ve already started to work on. Many pins require riding the same lift a number of times and now your account will tell you when you’ve started earning a pin and what you have left to do to get it.

200 New Pins. I don’t even know how many pins they had last season, but 200 sounds like a good number to add to the mix. Top earners had around 100 pins, I ended the season with just 26 pins, which, interestingly is the exact number of days I skied. Another goal for me – more days, more pins.

Custom FB/Twitter Messages. Last season, when you chose to post your pin earnings, or vertical feet accumulated to the social media sites. I guess some people felt like they couldn’t fully express themselves, so now you can customize the message that goes with your post.

Faster App. We always want things faster. I’m a rather patient person, so I was never bothered with the app taking it’s time to load. Mostly because the information was not crucial to my experience, just that I was curious. They may have shot themselves in the foot here by making this promise, hopefully it delivers. I’m more likely to be disappointed now if it’s not fast, but would have just been happy to be wowed by seeing it be faster.

I didn’t ask, but since they didn’t mention it, I’m guessing one of the features I was hoping to see didn’t make it. I would like to use EpicMix as my comprehensive ski log. No, Mr. Vail, I don’t only ski at your resorts and yes, I would like to be able to add my vertical footage from other ski trips, including backcountry excretions. Maybe it wouldn’t earn me any pins, but I know the 230,610 feet I skied at EpicMix mountains is not all I did last season. It would be nice to be able to post that. Maybe next year.

If all this data capturing and sharing is a little freaky for you, that’s fine. You don’t have to register with EpicMix at all, or you can lock down your account so it’s not public and only you will see your vertical and pins. My account is public, so when you get on, let’s compare notes!

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