EVER SKI DOWN A SLOPE AND wonder just how fast you went and how far? Skiers at Vail this season aren't guessing anymore. The resort is leasing lightweight fanny packs stuffed with the latest in global-positioning-satellite mapping software, developed by MapInfo Corp. in Troy, N.Y., to plot skiers' movements on a digital map.
After a run on the slopes, a skier can have his or her information downloaded onto a disk. Within an hour, users can receive a static, three-dimensional map. Or they can get an interactive CD-ROM that profiles their entire ski adventure, broken down by speed, ski runs, and miles--both in vertical drop and linear distance.
And skiers aren't the only takers. The New York City Police Dept. is using the software to create profiles of the city's high-crime areas by type of crime and frequency. The U.N. is using a similar GPS mapping system to pinpoint land mines in Bosnia. And Blockbuster Video Inc. is employing the technology to scout high-traffic areas where it can locate new stores. MapInfo is cashing in: first-quarter revenues were up 30% over a year ago, to $13.1 million.