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Fleye testing technology at New England ski resorts to create customized video highlight reels

Posted by Scott Kirsner  February 24, 2012 01:31 PM

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It's always too bad that during those epic ski runs or new-personal-best triathlons, there's no film crew from ESPN trailing you to create a highlight reel that you could watch over and over. But a small New Hampshire start-up, Fleye, wants to fill that void. And this winter, they've been testing their system of high-definition cameras, RFID tags, and computers at two New England ski areas, Mount Sunapee and Wachusett Mountain.

Fleye sets up an array of HD cameras atop poles along the side of the slopes — especially around the terrain parks. The cameras run all the time, storing the video on computer hard drives in the base lodge. (It's eventually uploaded to Amazon's cloud storage infrastructure.) For $10, skiers or snowboarders can purchase an RFID tag that communicates with the cameras, letting them know when you're zooming past their field of view. That essentially creates a "label" on the few seconds of video that are relevant to you.

When you get home, the Fleye website can show you only the clips that you appear in, and give you a chance to delete certain clips (wipe-outs, perhaps), or rearrange the sequence. Eventually, there will be the option of adding music or other enhancements. The $10 fee includes access to one day's worth of video content; if you return to the mountain on another day with your tag, Fleye will let you access those clips for $7.50. In addition, Fleye can set up big-screen TVs in the base lodge that know when you're standing near them, thanks to that RFID tag hanging from your zipper pull, and can play the video clips that star you.

"This is our first winter of having the system out day after day," says Cameron Miner, Fleye's founder, and a veteran of IBM Research, Arthur D. Little, and DEKA Research. "We did some testing last winter at places like Stowe and Breckenridge, and we're working toward an installation at Killington next year." Fleye is also working with the Nastar recreational ski racing group to explore setting up its cameras on Nastar-sanctioned courses. Ski resorts pay for the Fleye system, and then share revenue with the company.

Miner says they've tested the system at the Boston Marathon, and may also use it for horse shows, obstacle races like the Warrior Dash, or sports combines, where professional teams evaluate a group of prospective players.

Fleye is headquartered in Exeter, NH. "We're making our own POV cameras, and we built our own active RFID chip that costs under $5," Miner says. The company raised a seed round of less than $1 million last October. "We have revenue coming in this winter, and we hope we never have to do an A round," Miner says, referring to the next round of funding many start-ups raise.

"We're not so much about creating viral videos, but about enabling social media so that one million people might share their Fleye videos with 40 people each," Miner says.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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