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One week: So many cool new things

The next few weeks are going to be rather busy in the sports technology world (remember my 2011 predictions?).  There’s a ton of companies either announcing new products, major changes to existing products, or new services.  While both these companies and I would love to dedicate an entire post to each and every one, I’m kinda choosing which items get a full blown post, and which ones get a consolidated post.  Sorta like Interbike – just too much good news to go around!

Polar RCX5 Multisport Watch Coming:

Some of you may have seen some of the tweets and Facebook postings from Polar USA around the upcoming RCX5 multisport watch.  In addition to the official channels, there was also a minor leak of product pricing from one of the European retailers to a few forums, which ultimately ended up in a variety of places.  Here’s a picture of the watch from those leaks.

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I had a good telephone conference with the Polar folks over the last few days, and got to chat about many of the features of the new watch.  It’s got some good new additions that should add a bit to the market.

I’ve got a post lined up with tons more in depth detail from my rather detailed talks with them about features and functionality (also answering many of the questions I’ve seen floating around).  Though…I’ve gotta hold off a bit more until I can release that info.  Hang tight!  Additionally, they’re sending me out one of the final production units to review – which should arrive at the latest by next weekend.  Looking forward to it, and branching out a bit more into the Polar world.

Training Peaks App Acquisition:

I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past that the next major battlefield for sports technology is the mobile platform.  While there will always be a place for standalone watch devices, we’re seeing a pretty big shift towards the phone platform for both casual users, and data driven users.  It won’t be for everyone, but ignoring that market would be foolish (Note: ultimately I think we’ll see a partial shift back towards watches with iPod Nano like screens that can load any app you want).

Not wanting to ignore this trend, Training Peaks went out and acquired the SprintGPS app from Screenmedia.  This app has the ability to record your workouts and then automatically upload them to Training Peaks.  While there are many apps that do this today, the goal here for Training Peaks is to take an already well established app and then really make it become the best Training Peaks app out there.  At the absolute top of their list is adding in ANT+ support via the Wahoo Fitness dongle, and for the Android versions – also adding in ANT+ support for those phones that have it built in.

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Now, there is one little snag.  For those familiar with Apple’s App Store policies, there’s a minor complication in simply ‘transferring’ this app from it’s previous owner to Training Peaks app store.  As a result, if you’ve already bought it with SprintGPS, you’ve gotta buy it again.  Not ideal I agree…but they came up with a minor work around to simply charging $.99 (as opposed to the usual $5), and then donating all of that (minus Apple’s cut) equally to three bike/run/triathlon charities.  Though, this offer is only good Tues/Weds.

In my discussions with the founder of TP and some of their staff – the whole team at Training Peaks is pretty jazzed about this, and I’m optimistic this will allow them to get some functionality that really focus on the training and analysis side pulled from TrainingPeaks.com – down into an app form factor (and maybe…just maybe, they’ll add ANT+ transfer from the FR310XT and the like…if I keep begging).  In the meantime, if you use TP, I’d grab the app now before it gets five times more expensive…and since it benefits a good cause for now.  All the deets here.

Swimsense Updates:

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While the rest of us have been slaving away in the pool during the winter (me above, this winter with the Swimsense), the folks at Swimsense have been slaving away on their computers adding features, functionality and bug fixes to the Swimsense watch.

Let’s get into all the cool stuff that was released over the past few days.

New functionality via Firmware Updates:

As part of a new firmware update released over the last few days, you’ve now got the following updates and changes:

Continuous Save:  Some folks experienced workouts being lost when the battery died during a workout.  The Swimsense will now save the workout on a (virtually) continuous basis.

Improve Stroke Rate:  we improved the Stroke Rate calculation to not include wall push-off time.  This is a key feature for those folks that train by stroke rate (e.g. this is a key component to the Total Immersion program).

24 Hour Clock:  Implemented a 24 hour clock

Bug Fixes: Here’s a pile of the more notable bug fixes-

- Fixed bug when clearing watch which may cause the buzzer to sound until reset
- Fixed when the watch is configured to meters, the ready-to-swim screen still shows yards
- Fixed issue where watch does not save weight setting when set in KG
- Fixed the battery icon faster on USB Charger Disconnect to remove the charge symbol
- Removed the rest time from Interval History
- Feature: Increment Age + Weight Config options by 1 rather than 5

Note they are also going to release another firmware update later this week which will improve the charge time of the Swimsense.  Currently a single charge will last about 4 hours of swimming or 20 hour of non-swimming (this calculation does not include Sleep mode).  Once the new firmware is released, a single charge will last about 8 hours of swimming or 50+ hours of non-swim time.

Note: Huge thanks to founder John Anthony from Swimsense for getting me all this detail about about changes.

Added Training Peaks support:

I’ve been pushing this for quite a while…and it’s probably the most exciting useful functionality change I’ve seen this year from any company (sometimes companies add non-useful yet fun functionality that you rarely actually use).  In short, when I upload workouts via the Swimsense Bridge, it will now automatically relay that workout to my Training Peaks account.

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This means that instead of having to manually transcribe my workout from the Swimsense training log into the Training Peaks log – it just does it automatically.  The distance, laps, splits, everything all comes across:

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Now, I’m not going to go and say that everything is quite perfect yet.  There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t quite align as well as it does on the Swimsense log just yet.  But, it’s a good start.  I’m hopeful some of the bugs will get worked out and the data will come across a bit cleaner.  My primary goal was pretty much just getting totals and splits to show up, so I was happy that piece generally is correct.  It’s some of the individual lap pieces that look a bit funky in the Training Peaks graphs (see the last few sets):

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Adding Sport Tracks support

In addition to Training Peaks support noted above, the team at Sport Tracks is putting the finishing touches on a Swimsense plug-in that will allow you to view your workout details in Sport Tracks.  Here’s a quick sneak peak:

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Ok…that’s all I’ve got for now – but trust me, there’s a ton of stuff coming out over the next two weeks.  Don’t be going too far away…or ya might just miss something!  Plus, remember you can always get the absolute latest news via my Twitter feed as well.

Thanks for reading!

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11 Comments

  1. Loving the brief look at the polar watch. Curious about functionality. Hopefully an actual competitor against Garmin as Timex seems to not be pushing out their updates quick enough to fix issues on the TGT.

    Reply
  2. Darn …. I love this blog!

    As reader and fan I wonder if you mr gadget actually use or used à phone as sports tracker? I did and I’m not seeing the bright side. For the casual “let’s run” runners the phone and there apps is fine. Here is my brief experience.

    Started running this year with iPhone 3GS and runkeeper. Good app and I wasn’t experienced enough to tell good from bad, to be honest wasn’t even sure if I would keep up running.

    Now I’m a fanatic runner and there where major issues with my phone way tracking.

    - Not so very accurate gps position.
    - Low gps sampling interval, resulting in big corner cutting.
    - unable to trust my pace.

    So I tested another phone. Htc hd2 android.

    - much better sampling, no more corner cutting
    - not very accurate, more samples but less straight lines
    - not able to use pace, to fast.

    So I decided to leave the phone at home and get myself a gps sports watch. Din’t have the patients to wait on the next 310xt update anymore. What did I want? A pacing number I could trust. Went for the garmin 210 but got a sweet deal on a garmin 410.

    I’m a very happy runner now!

    Phone based sports solution summary:

    Pro:
    - cheap
    - data rich
    - for the “not to serious about statistics”

    Cons:
    - Phones have aGPS and there al lacking accuracy.
    - Distance and pacing to low or to high.
    - Battery, evening run with 25% won’t don’t work.

    Basically it comes down to what you want for your running experience. Most casual runners can do with there phones statistics. Most actually never even tought about these options before they got there running app. Are you fanatic about pace, distance? Phone running isn’t for you.

    I do share your vision about a dedicated sports watch where we can load our apps on. But for now … don’t give sport phone apps to much credit ;-).

    Reply
  3. james

    I’m completely looking fwd to the Polar..

    I’m starting to HATE GPS.. I have a Garmin 310xt.. GPS has its place in the world, running and cycling isn’t it..

    Give me the new polar – with footpad and cycling sensors.. Easy transitions and some training plan capability and I will smash my garmin, flip cam it and post it right here!I’m so sick of this thing

    Reply
  4. James, why would you say that. In my view GPS is a more accurate measure where as foodpod distances are not very accurate (confirmed by running mates),I presume calibrating the foodpod has something to do with the inaccurate results.

    There are more pros than cons with the 310xt as compared to footpod technology
    Sameer

    Reply
  5. Hi!

    Just a tip for thise who are going to update their Swimsense. Please read what’s under the warning banner…

    If you are just as impatient as I am… You loose your trainingdata.

    Reply
  6. Is there a set order to connect your swimsense with the bridge. It always says no device connected.

    Reply
  7. I had de Polar RS 800 CX and I’ve some complaints:
    1. The batteries of the speed and cadence sensors are non-replaceable. Do you know how to open the casing and replace the battery? This is the main reason why I haven’t decided to buy this new model.
    2. The graphs aren`t accurate. Especially the slope. Staying on the graph, appears a pop-up that shows it.
    3. The battery of the G3 GPS sensor doesn’t last long. Usually the G3 sensor didn´t work.

    Reply
  8. Hi,
    I have tried to find your email but I haven’t found it !
    So I post here.

    I’m french and this week end I ‘ll be at the Paris ‘s Marathon.
    I will try to have documentation of the new RCX5 in Polar Stand.

    By the way have you seen new item in Polar web site ?
    -a Polar WearLink®+ transmitter with Bluetooth®
    link to polar.fi
    Polar WearLink®+ transmitter with Bluetooth® wireless technology picks up your heart’s signals and transfers that data into a compatible mobile training application: Runtastic, sportracker, etc….

    Reply
  9. Interesting. There’s a few different BT-combo straps out there. I just ordered a Zephyr one that works natively with the iDevices, and also the Nike+ one as well.

    Will check and see if/how this is different than the Nike+ Polar Wearlink strap.

    Reply
  10. Jérôme

    Hi,
    I’m back from The Marathon de Paris and the Running Expo.

    I have few pictures of the Polar RCX5.
    the watch, the differents sensors :
    S3+, Speed sensor, cadence sensor, GPS.
    How can I send it and share with you
    ?
    I have visited too Garmin France, and I asked them about a new GPS forerunner. They don’t want to tell me anything, but I have understand that a new forerunner will be shoown thursday. It isn’t a new 310XT forerunner, but a new 610 forerunner specially for runner which love data !!
    So a 610 forerunner for Geek runner ???

    Jérôme

    Reply
  11. Bernard Maughan

    Ray, I followed your link in a recent post on the new Polar and saw the story about the TP/Sprint GPS Acquisition.

    At the time, I asked TP why I would use this app since my watch does everything except automatically upload to TP. I never got a satisfactory response as to the benefits. They replied with lots about the features, but nothing about the benefits.

    Recently on a short trip I was sitting at a coffee shop post bike ride and heard a snide comment about the size of my Timex Global Trainer. When I turned to see who it was, the guy asked “does that watch make your dinner too?” When I explained it was a sports watch with GPS sensor in it, he happily pulled out his iPhone and showed me how his ride was recorded on his phone.

    It amused me that he was making fun of the size of my watch, yet he recorded his ride on his phone, about 5 times the size of my watch. And he can’t swim with his phone, nor record power or cadence. And he’s hardly going to race a marathon or triathlon constantly pulling his phone out to check his splits or pace.

    Can you explain why the TP GPS app is one I’d want to use?

    Cheers,

    Bernard

    Reply

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