I’m asked on a daily basis which device I prefer and why. Generally it’s in the context of whether oe should choose device X or device Y, or perhaps a combination of device W and device X. My answers are generally the same, with slight variances for different circumstances.
But what if I could design one single device that did it all? That did all the things I’d want a device to do? What would it look like? Well, let’s get into it.
There are really two different form factors that I see in this arena. One aimed at multisport, and one aimed primarily at runners. I like having four fields of data displayed at once – like the Forerunner 310XT. But I LOVE the form factor of the Forerunner 110 (with three data fields). I also don’t honestly mind the size of the Forerunner 310XT. A little bit slimmer would be nice, but beyond that – it’s really not that bad, as the tradeoff is a really clear and easy to read display.
But, again – in my perfect watch, it’d be approximately the size of the FR110, maybe a hair bigger to accommodate the screens. However, it would pack in all the features of the FR310XT and a few of the leftover ones missing that the Edge 500 has (around Power Meters and barometric altimeters mostly), oh, and all the stuff in the next two sections.
The device would feature a built-in quick release system that doesn’t require swapping of the band (which is a structural weakness). It would be smooth and seamless and not look clunky when utilized (unlike today’s quick release systems).
My perfect watch would enable remote GPS tracking. The ability for friends, family and coaches to tune into your race or training day and know exactly where you are at that given moment. It would integrate and upload ANT+ data from any source that was paired to the device – such as heart rate, power and cadence. They could access a simple website that you can share out all your rides, or just selected ones.
None of this is new. It’s just that today it’s spread across numerous device. The GPS Trakkers device does this today – but I always caveat that it does this at a huge cost to the user, and doesn’t give any feedback to the actual athlete (no display). RunKeeper on the iPhone/Android does this as well, but without the ANT+ fields. Plus, I don’t want a cell-phone. I want a simple clean watch.
This data tracking would be built into the cost of the device – I don’t want to pay yet another service fee to yet another wireless carrier. Similar to how Amazon’s Kindle utilizes Whispernet to offer you downloads from your Kindle…without ever signing up/paying for that connectivity. It’s just there.
In the water:
The device would record swimming data regardless of whether you are in the pool or the ocean. It would utilize accelerometers in the pool to determine laps, strokes, and stroke length. All items that are available today in standalone units.
In open water, it would utilize a more refined version of Garmin’s new Openwater Swim mode to get accurate distances on your wrist – and not in your swim cap. Yet, it would still give you stroke information via the accelerometer. So in many ways, it would be what the guys at Sport Sense are working on (which I’ll talk about in a post next week).
Lastly, heart rate data would work in the same way that Polar’s T-31 coded straps do…in real time, all the time. While new ANT+ FS straps are mere weeks away from releasing, these still don’t transmit in the water yet – they simply record all the data (HR, lap turns, etc…) and then transfer it to the device once out of the water. I want it to do it in water. If one company can do it (Polar), others can do it as well.
I don’t want wires. After years of refinement, Garmin’s wireless transfer system works quite well, however it needs to be expanded. Let me transfer that data across Bluetooth to my mobile phone, just like some companies already support today. And going even further, companies like Wahoo Fitness are also very close to allowing you to download your FR310XT data via ANT+ to your iPhone wirelessly, and then to Training Peaks. All without a computer.
That’s the type of integration I want. Except, I don’t want to have a dongle – I want it to work with any smart phone out there. Yes, ANT+ chips are in some smart phones now (HTC Legend and others soon) – but realistically speaking, unless they’re in an iPhone (or the next ‘must have phone’)…it just doesn’t matter on a grander scale.
Lastly, the device would use a standards based file format. Just because you have a new device does not mean you need to have a new file format. This goes for both hardware and software vendors. C’mon guys – there’s just not that many of you out there – surely for one simple thing you can play nice on something everyone can read without yet another format for storing sports data.
I want the battery to last…a long time. I want to be able to use the device as a standard wrist watch for weeks on end. I love that the FR60 lasts a YEAR! I love that the FR110 will last almost a few weeks as well. Now let me do workouts every day, and still last a few weeks.
Price is always tough. Price it too high, and it doesn’t catch on. Price it too low – and you’re leaving money on the table. Most of the device that do portions of what I’m describing above – are in the $275-$325 range. I think that’s a fair range for such a device.
Here’s the kicker. None of what I’ve described above is beyond the real of possibility. In fact, every single item I’ve mentioned is already being done today…just not yet altogether on a single device. Give me a device that does it all.
The real question isn’t if such a device gets made – it’s a question of when. I’m still hedging my bets that such a device will exist in the next 18 months. Time will tell…