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Week in Review–December 8th, 2013

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The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action!

DCRainmaker.com posts this past week:

Here’s all the goodness that ended up on the main page of DCRainmaker.com this past week.

Monday: A weekend skiing in Switzerland and running at home
Tuesday:
Polar Loop In-Depth Review
Wednesday:
Week in Review–December 4th, 2013
Thursday:
Florence Marathon Race Report: Perhaps not my cup of ‘THE’
Friday:
Huge Garmin Fenix Firmware Update: The Beginning of GPS Fitness Watches Becoming True Smart Watches

eBay DCR Gadget Collections!

I know many of you shop via eBay instead of traditional retail channels.  So I’ve collaborated with eBay this holiday season to put together collections related to sports gadgets.  I linked to a few collections earlier back in October, but here’s a pile more:

Running GPS Units: Budget
Running GPS Units: Mid-Range
Running GPS Units: High End
Cycling GPS Computers
Hiking, Mountain, and Geocaching GPS Units
Indoor Cycling Trainers
Swimming Gadgets
Triathlon Gadgets
Activity Monitors
Connected Weight Scales

Enjoy!

Stuff that I found interesting around the interwebs:

Here’s a not-so-small smattering of all the random things that I stumbled on while doing my civic duty to find the end of the Internet:

1) Must Watch: BASE Jumper Slams into Cliff After Pulling Chute, Captures the Whole Fall on Camera: Well, that’s gonna leave (left) a mark.

2) New Bluetooth 4.1 Specification released: This is pretty substantial, lots of interesting scenarios here. Notably, this line: “With this new capability, a single device acts as both a Bluetooth Smart peripheral and a Bluetooth Smart Ready hub at the same time. For example, a smart watch acts as a hub gathering information from a Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitor while simultaneously acting as a peripheral to a smartphone — displaying new message notifications from the phone.”  Translation: Now a single sensor can connect to multiple devices.

3) Profiles of 10 adventure sports photographers: Pretty cool post with some great sports photographer bios and then further links to look at more photos.  Warning: You may burn a lot of time…

4) The Smart Bra: Pretty interesting research & development stuff, aimed at predicting responses to emotional states – such as eating a cookie.  Full paper here.  (via Eli)

5) A study on how high school runners change training patterns once in college: Cool to see the exact breakouts on the survey answers.

6) A look at transporting an NFL team: A neat behind the scenes on what happens week after week for the Denver Broncos.

7) Adidas worked on next World Cup soccer ball for over 2 years: This, is only of note mostly because I happened to see a giant variation of it yesterday in Sao Paulo, below… (via Sport Tech News)

20131206_104205617_iOS

8) For the Pro Cycling followers: If you’re looking for a pretty detailed (and more brutal) analysis of the recent ownership changes in Team Saxobank, you’ll find no better article than this. (via Neal Rogers)

9) New open-platform action camera: In looking at it, I’m not so certain this will take off, especially at that price point.  Still, always good to have more players in the space.

10) Olympic Torch Bearer Catches Fire: It’s one thing to bring the torch home with you, it’s another to try and take the fire home too.  Small video clip at the site too.

Crowd Funded Projects of Athletic Note:

This is a bit of a new section. Most of this content used to be found within the main section, but I figured I’d just call it out up here and make it easy to find. I regularly sift through Kickstarter and Indiegogo (plus a few others on occasion) looking for sports projects. Note that as always with crowd funded projects, assume the project will be late and will under-deliver on features. Thus far, on the numerous products I’ve helped ‘fund’ (except a leather bike handle), that’s been the case.

Skulpt Aim: Device to Measure Muscle Fitness with One Touch: Not so much for the endurance folks, but in the same circles as many here.

360º for GoPro, DSLR, Video and Compact cameras: Seems awfully pricey to me, especially given CES is 4 weeks away and we know stuff will be announced there in the 360* space…

Sports Technology Software/Firmware Updates This Week:

Each week I quickly highlight some of the new firmware, app, software and website service updates that I see go out. If you’re a sports technology company and release an update – shoot me a quick note (just one liners is perfect, or Tweet it at me is even better) and I’ll make mention of it here. If I don’t know about it, I won’t be able to post about it. Sound good?

Site/Firmware Updates:

Garmin Fenix & Garmin Tactix (beta): Well, I think I covered this pretty well above in the full-on post.

Garmin Fenix & Garmin Tactix (non-beta): This is mostly just bug fixes and does not include the new beta features.

Adidas Smart Run GPS: This update released on Monday was primarily focused on battery life enhancements, plus a few other items.

PeriPedal Trainer Software Update: A fairly big update including ANT+ PowerBeam Pro support added as well as support for Bluetooth Smart heart rate monitors.

TrainingPeaks device agent: Some minor updates, including changes to FR910XT swimming mode support.

iPhone Apps:

20131206_220226000_iOS 20131204_112823000_iOS20131204_025839000_iOS

iPad Apps:

photo

Android Apps:

Screenshot_2013-12-07-02-25-29 Screenshot_2013-12-07-02-26-09Screenshot_2013-12-07-02-25-08

Windows Phone Apps:

No sports-related Windows Phone app updates on my phone since Wednesday.

Thanks for reading all!

23 Comments

  1. Eli

    For ebay, are these just the sports devices found on ebay so we should still be just as careful about the seller as other ebay items or are they from sellers that you looked into?

    For bluetooth, its 4.1 not 4.3. Also I don't think the change is doing what you think. Going by that link its still one to one as before only now a watch as can both receive data from a BLE sensor simultaneously with the watch being paired to a smartphone. So the change allows the watch to be master and slave at the same time but still only have 1 to 1 pairing. Their description of the added bulk data transfer to BLE seems interesting. Makes it seem like they are planning for smarter sensors that can store the data for later transmission which could be very useful for swimming (HR data can't be transmitted underwater to a watch but after the swim is over the watch could get all the data and save it)

    Reply
    • Tyler replied

      The docs mention a device can be both a hub and peripheral, but I couldn't tell if the "hub" part allows it to be many:1 or just 1:1

      Interestingly, two of the "end user examples" from the BT 4.1 quick reference guide are fitness related.

      Under "Maintain connections with less frequent manual intervention" / "Exchange data more efficiently":

      When I’m swimming, I can’t carry a phone, but I want all my workout information captured on my Bluetooth Smart wearable device. When I’m finished with my swim and get close to my Bluetooth Smart compatible phone, the devices automatically reconnect and my information is efficiently synced to the application on my smartphone.

      and "Device supports multiple roles simultaneously":

      I love my Bluetooth Smart enabled watch. Not only does it alert me to a message on my smartphone, but it captures data from my heart rate monitor when I run, and later sends it to the app on my tablet so I can share it with my running club.

      Having cycled for a year with the Wahoo Fitness app and a host of BTLE devices: speed/cadence, HR, RFLKT and more recently Stages, I have experienced permanent dropouts from one of the devices if the phone strays too far from the bike for an extended period--like grabbing lunch at a cafe. Sometimes you'd have to end the workout, exit the app and resync all again. Not sure if the key issue is the software implementation or the BT spec, but perhaps 4.1 could alleviate some of this.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I asked Niclas (on the BT sig from Polar) a couple days ago about that specifically, and he noted:

      Me: "Any chance that allows for dual-connection to sensors (or other devices)?"

      Him: "Yes, a sensor can have many simultaneous connections and a device can be master and slave at the same time. In other words 4.1 has full scatternet support."

      The additional storage piece (sorta like ANTfs) is separate, and very cool, but was beyond the scope of what I wanted to cover in the usual one-line aspect of the week in review post.

      Reply
    • Norm Corriveau replied

      Interesting Ray. I read through four or five articles on 4.1 and NONE of them mentioned dual connection. I really wanted this to be the case but I couldn't find any reference. I don't understand why this wasn't published more as this is huge - it really removes the ANT+ advantage. Right now I wear two HR straps when I'm on the trainer (I fell like a wannabe Rainmaker) so I can get HR data to my Polar Loop as well as my Mac (for TrainerRoad).

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      With BLE a master can have multiple slaves and a slave can only have one master, the change 4.1 seems to make is that it went from a singular device can't be both slave and master for BLE (normal bluetooth already allowed that) to allowing a singular device to be both slave and master. This allows a scatternet.

      But I don't see where they changed the spec to allow a slave to have multiple masters which is what would be needed to be more like ANT+ so for example a heart rate strap could pair with a phone and watch at the same time. (That would be a big deal as it would be a completely new way for pairing to work)

      For those interested: link to eetimes.com (doesn't cover the changes in 4.1)

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'll catch-up with Niclas and have him respond here, since he's sorta the master there (head of the BT SIG for Fitness).

      Reply
    • Niclas replied

      Seems like my comment went into the wrong place in this discussion
      so I am reposting. The specification (Volume 6, part B, Section 1.1.1) says clearly

      1.1.1 State and Role Combination Restrictions
      The Link Layer may optionally support multiple state machines. If it does support
      multiple state machines, then:
      • The Link Layer in the Connection State may operate in the Master Role and
      Slave Role at the same time.
      • The Link Layer in the Connection State operating in the Slave Role may
      have multiple connections.
      • The Link Layer in the Connection State operating in the Master Role may
      have multiple connections.
      • All other combinations of states and roles may also be supported.

      I think this is pretty clear.

      Niclas Granqvist

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      So clear in the actual spec, but not clear in the PR release Bluetooth put out that Ray linked to which made no mention of it.

      Reply
    • Niclas replied

      Eli, there are many new features not mentioned and the marketing has a tendency to reduce and simplify the message.

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      Thanks for the info. Sorry for making assumptions based on the press release

      Reply
  2. Gunnar

    Can't help but wonder if the Garmin firmware announced for the fenix regarding iPhone notifications has any thing to do with the 4.1 Bluetooth announcement?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, it doesn't leverage 4.1.

      Reply
    • Niclas replied

      The specification (Volume 6, part B, Section 1.1.1) says clearly

      1.1.1 State and Role Combination Restrictions
      The Link Layer may optionally support multiple state machines. If it does support
      multiple state machines, then:
      • The Link Layer in the Connection State may operate in the Master Role and
      Slave Role at the same time.
      • The Link Layer in the Connection State operating in the Slave Role may
      have multiple connections.
      • The Link Layer in the Connection State operating in the Master Role may
      have multiple connections.
      • All other combinations of states and roles may also be supported.

      I think this is pretty clear.

      Niclas Granqvist

      Reply
  3. Oh, and for Ebay, they're collections with items more like a gallery, not a recommendation of who to buy from.

    Reply
  4. Sean

    Ray,

    Is this change to Bluetooth-Smart a hardware one, or can existing devices be used with new firmware?

    Sean

    Reply
    • Niclas replied

      Some mfgs can update to 4.1 without changing HW.

      Reply
  5. Norm Corriveau

    Thanks Niclas for all the info, this is great news. Ray, I'm hoping you could do a post about this in light of all this info. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has many questions such as:

    - Can you get any info from any companies about support for dual connection (Polar, 4iiii, Wahoo, PowerTap, etc.)
    - If they won't give you info that you can publish maybe they'll tell you they have plans "on background" so you can say you are aware of at least x companies working on this.
    - Do you know of HR straps (other than the Viiiiva) getting firmware updates in the past (in other words how likely is a hardware upgrade going to be required)?
    - What about speed/cadence sensors? Any past firmware upgrades?
    - Will the phone/tablet/Mac/PC OS need an update to support this?
    - Is the above true in the case of two apps on a single phone/tablet talking to an HR strap (for example) and is it also true if you have one phone with one app and one tablet with a different app talking to a single HR strap?
    - Will phone/tablet/Mac/PC APPS need an update to support this?
    - Is the above true in the case of two apps on a single phone/tablet talking to an HR strap (for example) and is it also true if you have one phone with one app and one tablet with a different app talking to a single HR strap?

    Like I said, lots of questions!

    Thanks so much for any info you can offer.

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      Outside of the Viiiiva hr strap and most of the power meters I don't think the other sensors have user upgradable firmware as the lack a way to connect to them in order to update the firmware. (Why invest in creating a wireless interface when the device's circuit board can be directly connected to during manufacturing?)

      By "Will phone/tablet/Mac/PC OS need an update to support this?" I assume you mean:
      Can a 4.1 slave talk to a 4.0 master?
      but in some way the more important question for this new functionality is:
      Can a phone that is BT4.0 and supports BLE talk to a 4.1 sensor while that sensor is simultaneously connected to some other device? (i.e does the master matter when you want a slave to connect to more than one master?)

      Reply
    • Norm Corriveau replied

      I guess what I'm asking (put another way is) will a phone (the master) need a firmware update to go to 4.1 and assuming it does, will every app need to be updated as well so that you could use two apps on a phone to communicate with one 4.1 capable HR strap (the slave).

      Also will two masters (say a phone and a tablet) still on 4.0 with non-updated apps be able to communicate with a 4.1 slave (a new HR strap).

      Reply
    • Niclas replied

      Actually, for many LE 4.0 use cases you can just remove the topology restrictions and it will work fine
      with no modifications.
      - A 4.1 slave can talk to a 4.0 master, of course.
      - A 4.1 phone can support a mix of 4.0 sensors and 4.1 sensors with no problems
      That is what was asked.

      The first step when a Bluetooth 4.1 device connects to an another device is a feature exchange. The feature exchange tells the capabilities of the other party. This is build into Bluetooth from the start.

      Practically Bluetooth is a hierarchical stack. Each layer is completely independent from all other layers and properly implements mechanisms that makes the stack very extensible.

      Niclas

      Reply
  6. Eli

    Amazon got confused on the correct cyber monday? Garmin GSC10 Ant+ speed/cadence sensor for $33:
    link to amazon.com

    Reply
  7. Eli

    Since I'm sure everyone thinks there ar too many smart watches:
    link to indiegogo.com

    Its a ring, not a watch, why are you looking at me like that? :-p

    Reply
  8. Eli

    Firstbeat Sport is 20% off:
    link to shop.firstbeat.com

    So still way too expensive in my mind for a software app at $319.20 for a year license and $799.20 for a lifetime license. Seems like they could make more money by selling the software at a lower price so people who aren't very serious about training would be tempted to get it. (i.e. less profit per unit sold but many more units sold) But thats just me

    Reply

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