Vandrico to keep Whistler Blackcomb’s crowds moving with wearables

Whistler Blackcomb

Cooler weather is hitting the west coast and our ski-bum contingent looks longingly to the peaks. When more than 2 million skiers, snowboarders, and wide-eyed gondola riders look out on the peaks of Whistler Blackcomb just north of Vancouver this year, invisible sensors will be scanning them right back.

Vandrico Solutions’ pilot project, using its integrated wearables technology, aims to give the destination resort real-time intelligence to streamline clogged lineups, keeping the tourists safe and happy along the way. At the recent GROW conference in Whistler, the technology was already in use as attendees made their way up to the peak.

Keeping the line moving at this world-class destination is harder than you might think. Think of the lines at Disneyworld filled with both first-timers and monthly passholders. Now, add folks routinely changing up their hoodies, toques, sunglasses, hipster beards and the rest of it, making it difficult to identify them before they go up, even if they’ve got a legitimate pass. A lot of people share passes, and some will try to get through, with or without a legit pass. Managing the crowd and trying to prevent fraud manually with a supervisor glancing between an expensive winterized iPad and the shuffling crowd can easily slow things up down at the lift lineup.

Vandrico Solutions in Whistler.

Vandrico Solutions in Whistler.

“The goal here is to improve the guest experience and reduce fraud which happens at the pass scanning level,” said Gonzalo Tudela, CEO of Vandrico. “The way they’re doing it, scanning by hand, is slow all around. It’s not a smart system. And looking up from a photo on a pass up to a face, scrutinizing them to see if they’re being honest, is just not how you want to service customers.”

Vandrico’s system involves Canary software and integrates with dozens of different wearable tech goggles, from Recon to Google Glass, and more. It’s linked to IP cameras, an IRFP gate system, a back office ERP system and sensors on the lifts to scan and identify in real-time those who need a secondary manual check. “It looks past the goggles and jackets that make it hard to identify someone, except through a machine.”

Tudela sees immense potential in the enterprise space for this kind of seamless solution, noting that radios just don’t cut it anymore. “We see the trends in the state of real-time, operational intelligence and how tech can be used to communicate to the front line,” he said.

His obvious passion for the technology stems from a serious situation far removed from the fun-loving ski slopes of a tourist mecca. “I used to work in the mining industry,” Tudela explains. “The scariest moment of my life was when we knew seismic activity was happening, but we couldn’t get this one person out of the location fast enough. He just wasn’t listening on his radio. He wasn’t answering. In this case, it was a happy ending, but often in these kinds of situations, there is not a happy ending. That’s why I’m so passionate about this smart technology that communicates instantly. It’s just a better way to connect with workers on the front line.”

Jonathon Narvey

Jonathon Narvey

Jonathon Narvey is a content marketing strategist and BetaKit Senior Editor. Living and working in the heart of downtown Vancouver, he's watched this city's tech hub grow and start to compete on a world-class level. He has learned most of what he knows about tech startups and entrepreneurial spirit by interviewing some of the most innovative thought leaders here and abroad. He's always up for learning something new about the startups, leaders and technologies that are changing our world.