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CES Roundup Part 2: Garmin, ANT+, 4iiii, BKOOL, Withings, O-Synce, Outside Interactive, LG, Pebble, Casio, Opryx, Glucovation

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We left off yesterday with Part 1 of my CES Roundup, which covered new products and notables from the following companies: Sony, Geonaute, Contour, VOXX, Jaybird, Kreyos, Aftershokz, Reebok, Magellan, and Moxy.

Today, we dive into the second half of my tidbit-style coverage of sports and wellness technology from CES.  Like yesterday, I’m going with shorter tidbits this time in order to cover as much ground as possible from what is an ever growing segment.  There’s easily 2-3 times as many companies in this market at CES as last year.  Clearly, next year I’ll have to re-think how I (and perhaps some ‘assistants’) can provide greater coverage of the various products.

As with yesterday, if you’ve got questions about any given tidbit, feel free to drop them below.  For most of these companies I had 10-20 minute conversations.

Thanks!

(PS: For those who are curious why it says Houston, TX above, it’s simply my US forwarding address.  I talk about that in depth a bit more here. Basically, I’m lazy, and it’s easier putting that address into web forms.)

Company Updates: Garmin

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As always, I spent a bit of time talking to Garmin folks.  Because they had already made announcements earlier in the week around Vivofit and Vivoki, most of my conversation was focused on catch-up type items, the vast majority of which stem from your questions.

Here’s two items of note:

- A cycling mode will be coming to the Garmin FR620, to match how it was in the FR610.  The timeline for this is “spring”.

- Configurable Lap banners will be coming to both the FR220 and the FR620, similar to what was shown early on upon release in some of the beta builds back around the Interbike timeframe.  The timeframe for this also matches the FR620 cycling mode, for “spring”.

While there may be other new features coming to the FR220/FR620, those were the only two that were absolutely confirmed on the list of potential candidates.

For those looking for a bit of guidance on a few common issues people are seeing with the FR220/FR620, expect to see much sooner software updates on footpod calibration.  Further, for the small number of folks seeing significant oddities with GPS tracks, I continue to recommend you open a support case.  Garmin is actively working on it – the randomness around when and if people see it continues to be painfully baffling for them.  There was a GPS chipset firmware update that was released three days ago that may help some cases, but they are still actively pretty engaged in trying to figure out the issue.  Note that a GPS chipset update is different from a watch firmware update.

Company Updates: ANT+ Trainer Profile

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ANT+ has been chugging away on a number of device profile updates, some of which I’ll detail more later this month as they get announced.

For today, I’ll focus on the ANT+ Trainer Control profile.  This allows trainers to standardize on a single profile such that any software app can talk to any trainer and control the trainer easily.  Today, the market is highly fragmented (though, getting better), but this will make it just as easy to connect a given app to a trainer, as it is today to connect a device to a heart rate strap.  This will enable a number of scenarios from individual control to group control (i.e. cycling studios).

All of the major players have signed onboard with supporting it (CycleOps, Wahoo, BKOOL, Tacx).  There is also another major company that appears poised to support it on their non-trainer devices.  But I’ll leave that tidbit sitting there for now until they’re ready to announce that.

The profile is nearing completion and they plan to release it in the coming weeks.  Once that’s done it’ll be up to the various trainer companies to implement it.  The timeframes will vary based on how different each company’s current control profiles are from the ANT+ trainer profile.  For example, Wahoo likely has the easiest job – since much of the profile was ported from their existing work.  While on the opposite site, Tacx probably has the most work to do since it sounds like there’s much less overlap there.

And finally, for good measure – below, one level of the ANT+ display case for cycling computers.  You can play the game of seeing if you know all the units.

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Sport Devices: BKOOL Trainer Updates

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BKOOL was at the show and demonstrating their computer-controlled trainer platform that I’ve reviewed in the past.  BKOOL positions itself as a bit more budget friendly variant of a resistance controlled trainer (that’s now available globally, including in the US).  They’ve also been working a fair bit on a revamp of their trainer software platform.

First, the video uploader that I demo’d back at Interbike is nearly complete, and should be released by early February at the latest.  Of note is that initial testing looks like they’re able to do seamless Garmin VIRB integration such that you just plug the VIRB in and it figures out everything automatically so that you can re-ride your rides without any additional intervention.

Next, looking at their apps, they continue to chug along on new and much improved user interfaces and functionality (also in that Interbike preview post).  This includes versions for Android/iOS/PC/Mac, all of which they plan to have by summer, though, it’s possible it could come out sooner.

Finally, they remain very committed to the ANT+ Trainer profile, which would in turn allow apps to easily control the platform.  For example, Trainer Road recently noted they plan to support BKOOL once it’s supported in the ANT+ Trainer Control profile.  At present, they (BKOOL) are awaiting the updated release of the profile from ANT+.  Once that’s done, they’ll begin work on integration.  Though, it sounds like the timeline may be a bit longer than just a few weeks (more like months).  It just depends on what they see once they get the final version.

Sport Devices: O-Synce Dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Remote (that can control Garmin VIRB)

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O-Synce has announced a new dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart remote control, that will succeed the previous unit they have that controls their Navi2Coach unit (amongst other units/devices).  The remote enables you to control actions such as setting a lap from your handlebars, or in the case of Bluetooth Smart, controlling music.

Most interesting however, is that the new remote has also been updated to control the Garmin VIRB action camera.  So now you can trigger it via a tiny little button on your handlebars – which is pretty sweet.  The new remote will be available in early spring for $49. You can see them above, one in my hand, and another mounted to a handlebar near the VIRB’s.

I really keep hoping trainer-focused companies like TrainerRoad, PerfPRO, VirtualTraining and others will add support for the remote (existing or new), as it provides for a great way to interact with software for simple trainer commands such as increase/decrease of wattage or pausing a workout.

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Above, their wired remote for their Urban free, but they also have a wireless variant as well.

Sport App: Outside Interactive Virtual Runner

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It’s been a couple of years since I last posted on Outside Interactive’s Virtual Runner, and I’m happy to see the significant progress they’ve made – especially since I most recently met with them at the ANT+ Symposium in October.

At the time, I commented to them that their user interface needed a bit of a Hollywood Nip & Tuck.  And – they came through with a much cleaner interface – seen above.

The software is designed to allow you to run against real race courses that are typically filmed the same day as the race.  You can ‘buy’ a course just like you might buy any other in-app purchase.  The software runs on tablets and PC’s, and can connect via an ANT+ adapter to an ANT+ footpod so that the video is controlled based on how fast you run.  It’s setup such that if you ran a 41 minute 10K, then the 10K race course they filmed would take you exactly 41 minutes to reach the end of it.  Pretty cool.

In addition, they can connect to ANT+ heart rate straps too, which you can see above in the user interface screen.  Bluetooth Smart support is coming along soon as well.

For those that don’t want to deal with a footpod, they also support the ability to simply set a pace in the app using the big “+/-“ buttons in the upper left.  So you simply match what your treadmill says and everything will work out perfectly.

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It’s actually a software suite that I’ve been meaning to do a short review on, and now that they’ve sorted out the user interface pieces I’m looking forward to digging into it again.  They stated that the new user interface version is being submitted to the Apple app store this week, and thus should be out probably in the next week or so.  They’ve also noted they’ve added a bunch of new races.

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Finally, for those curious on how exactly they film all the videos, you can see the rig below.  They’ve got a broadcast quality video camera combined with a Steadicam and a Segway.  On the front of the Segway is a sign asking folks to cheer – which is how they end up getting all the crowds cheering and even the photographers in the above photo all ready to take a photo of them.  Pretty cool stuff.

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Health Device: Withings Aura

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Withings announced their newest product – the Aura, which is a sleep tracking product that slides under your sheets and on top of the mattress.

In the photo above you can see the sensor pad, a few feet long, that connects to the large glowing thing.  The glowing thing emits light which is designed to “induce melatonin in the brain” and thus put you to sleep.  The light shuts off after you’ve fallen asleep.

At the same time the unit collects sleep metrics including your heart rate, breathing, and sleep quality.  This information is then transmitted via WiFi to the Withings site and accessible via the phone app – showing your various trends for each night.

The unit also contains a clock with an alarm that tracks your sleep to understand the most optimal time to wake you up based on the specified alarm time.  For example, if you set it for 7AM, it may find that it’s going to be less disruptive based on current sleep state to actually wake you up at 6:53AM.

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I was somewhat surprised at how darn big the bedside system is.  For comparison, I put my phone next to it above.  As you can see, it’s pretty high up.

The bedside unit can track multiple people using separate pads.  As you can see below, you can plug in multiple pads into the same unit.  And, if you don’t need the extra pad USB ports, you can simply plug in your phone.

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The unit will be available in Q2 (thus April-June) for a cost of $299. Additional pads will be $129 each.  The unit does track which pad belongs to which person, and uploads the data into the appropriate account.

Sport Devices: Casio STB-1000 Smart Watch built on Wahoo Fitness API (so it works with major fitness apps today)

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I’ve been waiting a while to see this watch make it to market, and it’s cool to see it finally here.  This is Casio’s STB-1000, which is a smart watch that’s sport focused and leverages the Wahoo Fitness API for the software side.  This means that it’s very similar to the Magellan Echo, except in a different form factor.  You can see how they’ve blended together the traditional Casio-style wrist-watch, with the data streaming from the Wahoo Fitness app.

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The unit connects via Bluetooth Smart to your phone, so your phone will have to be in range for it to work (just like the Echo or RFLKT).

From the unit you can pair it to numerous apps, like RunMeter or CycleMeter, as well as the default Wahoo Fitness app.  You can control music as well as get notifications of incoming calls and messages (depending on the app).

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Casio hasn’t yet set a price, but availability is planned for sometime this spring.

Sport Devices: 4iiii’s new GPS, Optical HR, Notification pods – all with ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart pass-through/bridge

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4iiii’s announced three new products for the sport and fitness community, all three of which are pretty impressive – at least starting with the size of them.   All of them are about ~3.5g in weight. They are as follows:

Viiiiva Optical HR Monitor: It’s a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Optical HR monitor that’s worn on your wrist (though, they said it can be worn elsewhere).  The unit gets 13 hours of juice out of its battery at 1-second recording rate.  Exact price TBD, but in the $80-$90US range.  The unit includes the same recharge connector as the Pebble Smart watch (the two companies are collaborating a bit here).

FYiiii Notifier: This is a ANT+/Bluetooth Smart notification pod, designed to be worn and used to quietly notify you of an event – for example an incoming text message.  It features vibration support, though doesn’t have a screen.  The pod connects to the standard iOS notification center (and has Android support too).  4iiii’s though has added a separate application that allows you to create a filter on top of the iOS notification center, so that the pod will only alert you to actions that you’ve configured (for example, text messages, but not Facebook notifications).  The pod will be $60.

SideKiiiick GPS: This ANT+/Bluetooth Smart GPS pod gets 10 hours of battery life, and is designed to offload GPS work from your phone to the pod, thus saving battery on your phone (for example, for longer hikes).   The GPS pod will be $129US. This unit also includes the same Pebble-based recharge connect (which ultimately goes to USB).

Below, are the same pods as above, just flipped over.  I’ve placed each pod next to their respective model name on the sheet of paper.

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Now, a few interesting notes of commonality on all three pods:

Accelerometer: All three pods have an accelerometer within them that can be leveraged for a variety of future opportunities (think footpods, activity monitors, etc…).

ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart Bridging: All thee pods contain the same Liiiink technology that’s within the 4iiii’s Viiiiva strap that bridges between ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart.  Further, as part of a recent update to that technology (via firmware), the technology no longer does rotation across multiple data stream (i.e. if you had an ANT+ cadence sensor, HR sensor and power meter it would rotate through each one during the bridging).  Now, it sends all of them concurrently all the time.  4iiii’s has said that Wahoo Fitness will be supporting that in their upcoming app update, if they haven’t yet already.  I have not yet confirmed that with Wahoo, but will be doing so shortly. (Update: Wahoo has confirmed this will occur in February in time for their own TICKR related releases.)

New Android Open Source API: In addition, 4iiii’s has developed an Android based open source API that can connect to all of the devices for further integration/leveraging opportunities.

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Now, one area that I think could be a really interesting opportunity is to take the cheapest of the pods (the notification one at $60), and offer it purely as a ANT+ to Bluetooth Smart power meter pass through for folks looking to move to the Polar V800 Bluetooth Smart-only triathlon watch.  In talking with 4iiii’s, in theory, everything would work as-is assuming all parties followed the Bluetooth Smart spec correctly.  If so (and you can be sure I’ll be testing it), it would be a huge barrier removed for existing ANT+ power meter users looking to move platforms.

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All of the pods will be available by the end of the first quarter (March).

Health/Wellness: Opryx with ANT+

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I had a chance to chat with the folks from Orpyx, who make an ANT+ sensor insert that’s designed to assist those with diabetes that may suffer from peripheral neuropathy.  The condition occurs with peripheral nerves don’t send signals to the brain regarding pain (or heat/cold).  As such, it can result in foot injuries because the person cannot feel pain in their feet (such as a blister or or pebble), which can ultimately lead to ulceration.

The Orpyx system includes a pressure sensitive pad/insert that sits in your shoe and transmits pressure data via ANT+ to a watch that alerts you if any pressure pad exceeds thresholds.  Below, you can actually see the little pressure sensors across the the insert.

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Then, you see the ‘cables’ coming out of the inserts, which connect to a footpod style system that sits atop your shoe.  In many ways, this is actually sorta a similar schematic model to the Brim Brothers power meter.

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As noted, all of that is transmitted to a specific custom watch via ANT+ that displays various zones and then thresholds of pressure within those zones.  It can then alert the user to potential issues (again, because the person may not feel the pain otherwise).

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I mention this first and foremost simply because it’s interesting health technology using open standards – a merging of a lot of different devices together.  Secondly though, I think it shows some of the potential of technology like this down the road in sport uses.  For example, there’s long been talk about how one could someday develop some sort of running power meter, measuring forces and establishing a baseline universal standard of effort – like a cycling power meter.  Obviously, there’s lots of unanswered questions in that realm, but I figured readers would find the technology interesting.

Health/Wellness: Glucovation with ANT+

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Next, another health-focused sensor – this one from Glucovation.  They’re developing a continuous glucose monitor that works in sport and fitness and transmits via ANT+, potentially down the road to units like Garmin watches.

Above, you can see the small pod that’s worn on the persons body, slightly above the waist line on your side.  It has a tiny needle that continually measures your blood glucose levels, and then transmits that via ANT+ to a waiting device.

In doing so, it can help a person with diabetes to better manage low blood sugar situations – which ultimately limit performance in an athletic event.  Companies like Garmin, Suunto and others could relatively easily add support for the ANT+ data stream (it’s a standard device profile) – just like a heart rate monitor or cadence sensor.  Within that, one could establish alerts based on a given value, just like you setup pace or HR alerts today.

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Now, continuous glucose monitors have been talked about for some time – and in this case, it’s going to be some time until it’s ready as well.  In talking with them, they’re still talking at least 1-2 years away before they hit public availability, largely due to the numerous regulations around medical devices.

Activity Trackers: LG Lifeband

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LG has joined the fray on the activity tracker scene as well.  They announced their Lifeband Touch wrist-based unit, which not only tracks steps and calories (and other movements), but also supports call and text message notifications, as well as music control.  Further, the unit actually contains a barometric altimeter in it for accurate elevation gain measurement.

In addition to the Lifeband, they announced a set of headphones that continuously measures heart rate (as well as plays music).  The headphones also enable control over music as well.  Interestingly however, they are not Bluetooth Smart for the heart rate piece, but rather standard Bluetooth 3.0 – likely driven by the audio requirement side.

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I remain highly skeptical however of the heart rate reading side of things until I see it happen.  Some might remember two years ago Motorola announced a similar product, however ultimately cancelled the project (prior to getting bought out).  Many in the industry heard that accuracy of the units was too questionable to be successful.

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At this point, there are no prices announced for either product, nor release dates.  Update: Pricing was just published at $179 for the Lifeband, and $179 for the headphones.

Smart Watch/Activity Tracker: Pebble Steel

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I wrapped up the day meeting up with the CEO of Pebble, Eric Migicovsky, at a hotel food court of all places.  It’s just the way it works sometimes.

We spent the majority of the time talking about the industry and where they would like to go – and my thoughts on where smart watches fit into things.  It was interesting in hearing him talk about how they feel that Pebble is in some ways more than just a physical watch, but also the platform around that.  For example, while they make their own unit (which has activity tracker capabilities) – they’re also interested in seeing how they can assist other companies that may want to leverage the activity tracking pieces and other API components for their own hardware products.

This ‘model’ is actually very similar to what Wahoo Fitness has done (as seen above with the Casio unit, as well as Magellan units).  Wahoo makes their own products (such as RFLKT), but also subs out that software layer to other companies that want to leverage it for their hardware products – even when those products ultimately seem competitive.

As we were chatting though, I got a chance to check out the just announced Pebble Steel edition.  This new unit has a steel case that makes it feel and look much more like a regular watch.  In fact, you completely forget in the case of the below photo that this is a digital canvas that’s merely painted on.

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Having been a backer of the original Pebble unit on Kickstarter, I’m pretty amazed at how this one feels.  The first unit always felt a bit plasticky to me, whereas this feels legit.  It’s worth noting that they’ve made some antenna placement changes in this unit, which leads to a bit stronger reception than the original pebble.

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Wrap-Up

With that, that’s just about all the tidbits I’ve got!  Tomorrow though, you’ll get a sneak peek at the new Bia watch, which I’ve had a chance to dig into a bit after a secret meet-up with the founder on the University of Las Vegas Track while at CES.  Hang tight!

Thanks for reading!

109 Comments

  1. Scott

    Was it possible for the people from LG to wear clothing that was any tighter!?

    Reply
    • Anonymouse replied

      Are you complaining? If so, why?

      Reply
    • David Stankard replied

      They are out of work Star Trek extras...you know, some of those red shirts that always get killed early in an episode.

      Reply
    • Ian replied

      No matter how long I stare at that picture, I STILL don't see any lifebands....

      Reply
    • ljcico replied

      better choice of clothing than bkool :)

      Reply
  2. Dan

    Maybe I missed it, but anything new on those running-sensor-things that attach to your shoes and measure various metrics?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Scribe labs (link to dcrainmaker.com). No, they were targeting more spring though. I'll ping them here in a few weeks and see how things are going. I think given the interest from Wahoo and their TICKR on standardizing some of the ANT+ data streams for that type of data, there may be a good opportunity for Scribe to join in on that standardization effort.

      Reply
    • slartiblartfast replied

      He looks like Murray from The Wiggles

      Reply
  3. Freitas

    Razer Nabu?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, I did poke at it a little bit. They were all glassed up behind cases, and then folks in the booth were mostly clueless when I tried to get answers to basic questions.

      That said, the display did look sharp, they had a unit up showing a United Airlines flight status on the display as a notification. But, I couldn't get a feel for the band itself, and given it was all under glass - it tends to be a sure sign that things aren't anywhere near ready for use yet. Given it was announced last year, and still under glass - that doesn't bode well.

      Reply
    • Freitas replied

      Thanks!

      Reply
  4. Joel

    I am waiting on upgrading my Garmin FR410 until the 620 offers a very compelling reason to switch. A firmware update making the 620 a "smart watch" like the Fenix would suffice. Any word or rumor if that new firmware update from Garmin will include notifications from your phone?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's going to be tough for them to include smart watch notification style functionality into the FR620. This is mostly because the current code base footprint is already pretty near capacity and adding in the notifications piece would be a substantial increase (well beyond something like a bike mode). I would expect going forward however, it'll be the norm for devices.

      Reply
    • Matt B replied

      It's good to hear a firm update on the bike mode, but did they have anything to say about the virtual racer/pacing mode for the 620?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nothing new at this point there.

      Reply
    • Matt B replied

      It's good to hear a firm update on the 'missing' bike mode, but did Garmin have anything to say about the virtual racer/pacing mode for the 620?

      Reply
    • Matt B replied

      Dangit, thought the first post had failed... I think that's my record longest time between double posts! Thanks for the info Ray!

      Reply
  5. Matt Stoner

    Any word from Garmin on firmware updates to the Garmin Swim?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, I'm not aware of anything planned in that realm. It's been about 18 months since release, so I'd expect that to be sorta the end of any new functionality.

      Reply
    • Steve Knapp replied

      Kudos to the Swim team. Solid hardware, easy to use, very few things with this watch that bug me after a year. All more than I can say for most of their GPS devices.

      Reply
  6. Hollyoak

    Thanks for broad overview of what's going on at CES, been there a couple of times and I know how challenging (and tiring!) it is to talk to everyone and then summarize things up for readers ;-)

    Thanks for getting the lowdown on the viiiiva update and good to hear that Wahoo will soon be updated to handle all the data. I wonder if Runstatic will too at some point as I like their "live broadcast" feature.

    Reply
  7. Vito

    Ray,
    first of all, thanks for all the updates, it's greatly appreciated.

    I'm very interested on the new 4iii products; I would like to know if you had the chance to talk to Wahoo guys regarding their technology support, because I received a completely different answer from their support just a couple of days ago, telling me that the crash problem I had with their app was related to using the Viiiiva.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I only wrote that about 2 hours ago. ;) Thus, per the above, I'm going back to Wahoo to confirm what Wahoo said. But...it's 5:39AM in Vegas currently.

      Reply
    • rc46 replied

      They tried to tell me the same thing. I think there is much more to their crash problem. It seems to me that that anytime you mix BTLE and Ant+ signals their app will randomly crash. I think what is actually happening is that the BT stack on the iPhone is crashing and that in turn takes down their app. I can make this happen almost every time I use my RFLKT+ regardless of if I am using an Ant+ HR strap or my ViiIiva. I have also regularly experienced their app crashing while not using my RFLKT+ at all only using the Viiiiva as my Ant+ bridge. The reason I think it is the BT stack crashing is that my BT headphones will cut out for a couple of seconds at the same time that the Wahoo app crashes.

      Reply
    • Wahoo Murray replied

      Hey,

      I've been working on support for the Viiii on and off for the last few weeks, it required a far bit of work on our side but we will release support towards then end of Feb in time for our TICKR HR releases as they also use multiple fitness profiles.

      When using the Viiii as just a HR monitor you shouldn't have any issues with the current software. My best guess is the crashes are related to BT headphones and/or ANCS (Notification) devices like Pebble. Its not these device causing issues, its iOS 7 being difficult. The latest iOS 7 beta seems much better.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Thanks Murray for the details.

      Reply
    • Vito replied

      Ray, I have to apologize because my sentences appeared a little bit rude. English it's not my mother-tongue, so sometimes my written form it's not the best. Thanks for the comprehension on that!!

      Murray, I just want to be fair and tell that I found that my problem it's not related to the Viiiva, but to my ant+ power meter. For a strange reasons, the app seem unable to read the power output from the power meter, but just the cadence. So, when i try to record an activity, it crash. I'm able to reproduce the issue quite easily now.
      I double checked and I'm sure that the power meter is ok because everything works with TrainerRoad, or with a Garmin 910xt, or with your own Wahoo utility app!!
      I can also say that I have the same problem with the iSmoothRun app, which I think use your API, so maybe there is something wrong with the last updates of your API.
      I have a ticket open, so I'll leave just this: I don't want to go too much off-topic. Thanks!

      Reply
  8. Amit

    U hv not mentioned any updates from Suunto in CES. I was hoping for a ver2 of the quest with integrated GPS

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Suunto wasn't at CES (in any sort of booth or public capacity). I suspect they had folks there checking things out, just like I saw a Timex person (via badge) at the hotel as I checked out yesterday morning (Timex also didn't have any presence there).

      Reply
  9. Thomas

    Hallo,
    some News to FR 620 and the Tanita BC 1000?

    Reply
  10. Hannes

    Hi Ray,

    did you hear anything about a new Edge (810/820/900)?
    Do you think there will be a new better version of a edge in this year without the problems (with gps, or software crashes when driving for example), and better features (bluetooth 4.0 etc.)?

    Or do you think there will be some software updates and a new edge-version will be there on 2015 or later?

    Thanks a lot.

    Reply
  11. jose

    HELLO
    Lg just publish a very hight price in their product $179
    link to lg.com

    Reply
  12. Boro

    Hi Ray,
    Did you hear/speak about iWEAR watch?
    When are they going to launch watch?
    Regards

    Reply
  13. Chris

    Great post. Where is the signup sheet for "Ray's CES Assistants" for 2015?

    Reply
  14. Great post! The Virtual Runner app makes me curious, and I'm now kicking myself just a little more for buying the 610 in June, as I WANT the 620. As always, great coverage!

    Reply
  15. Jose

    We need a Viiiiva combo sensor - Optical HR + GPS + Accelerometer.

    Reply
  16. Randy

    In your discussions with the CEO of Pebble, did you talk about improving the Runkeeper app and/or making it a more useful fitness device?

    I love my Pebble, but there is certainly room for improvement.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup indeed. In fact, our conversation started there. It's an area they're working on. They're looking to better understand how to transform the device UI/API options to better suit the fitness market. That's going to take some work (which they are doing).

      Reply
  17. Jeff

    So no updates to the Garmin 910??

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      There aren't any further new functionality updates planned for the FR910XT, as it stands now.

      As for a new variant of the FR910XT, Garmin doesn't pre-announce products. They announce and do all the PR stuff once they're ready to announce the product.

      Reply
  18. Jeff

    I should have said Refresh instead of Update. Thanks Ray. Great information. I've been holding out getting the 910xt hoping a new version would be coming out soon.

    Reply
  19. Nicky

    Hi ray,

    Really interesting stuff at CES, that's clear.
    Short question about the glucovation device. it's a pad with the device on it and little needle. Is the needle continuously in the body, or do I misunderstand how it works?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, that's correct, the needle stays in. It's designed for athletic/sport use - so no problems with water/etc...

      Reply
    • Brian T replied

      I'd guess it'll likely be a soft cannula that will stay inside your body, which is the standard for most CGM's that are currently on the market.

      Reply
  20. Ben

    Nowhere on Amazon's product page for the Garmin 620 do they say that it doesn't support bicycling. This is really scummy, and they need to get their act together ASAP. Saying "spring" is disappointing.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It also doesn't say it does support cycling either...nowhere is the word bike/cycle/cycling on the page.

      Just to be clear though, the FR620 can be switched into MPH mode, so it looks like cycling. The key thing the cycling mode does though is mark the activity as 'Cycling' for when it's uploaded to services like Garmin Connect. This has ancillary benefits of not hosing up PR's and the like for running, when you're on a bike.

      Reply
  21. Rodrigo Valle

    The Viiiiva mini Optical HR Monitor seems to be the holy grail of tech unification.
    If I am running, no more HRM strap chaffing, just use the Viiiiva Mini on my wrist and pair it through ANT+ with a Garmin Forerunner.
    If I am cycling, I take my Android phone on the back pocket tracking GPS, and have the Viiiiva Mini paired to the phone through BT-LE to record HR, and bridge the Garmin Speed/Cadence sensor from Ant+ to BT-LE and record those on the phone as well.

    In a nutshell: No more chaffing and full integration of sensors, all at a low price.
    Awsome, just awsome.

    Now, if only it works under water while sitting right next to an ant+watch on the same wrist..... :)

    Reply
  22. Jack

    With a cycling mode announced for just the 620, I'm left assuming that cycling isn't planned for the 220, at least in the near future. Is that a reasonable assumption?

    Many of the comments on your initial posts on these two models lamented there being no "stealth" (plain black, or black/dark gray) color options, as were available on the 210 and 610. Any chance this was discussed?

    Thanks for all your updates!

    Reply
  23. Gaspard

    Hi Ray,

    Did Garmin mention any update of the Garmin connect app on Android to support:

    1. workout uploads downloads to 620/220
    2. Future new garmin connect look and feel

    I ask this because, reading between the lines, it seemed that both IOS and android version are planned with an update (i read at the same date) to support their new BLE activity tracker.

    Just curious :)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No mention, other than Q1 2014 (so before March). Whether or not the FR220/FR620 will use the same app as the Vivofit, would be an outstanding question/announcement.

      Reply
  24. pepe

    Finally a Ant+ external gps provider profile with Sidekiiiick gps? For, running, it could be easily be placed under a cap, for superior gps signal reception. Is it waterproof? Can it be used in swimming, with a cap?

    Reply
  25. Sam M

    Ray,

    What are configurable lap banners? Is that more for cycling? Also what is the difference between a GPS chipset firmware update and a watch firmware update? Will the watch auto update for the GPS chipset update. Great reviews, thanks.

    Sam

    Reply
    • ekutter replied

      The ability to configure the information shown when a lap is triggered, either through auto-lap or the lap button. Not sure just how configurable it will be but you might want it to show the lap pace, lap time, Avg HR, etc. I think right now it just shows the lap number and lap time.

      Reply
  26. Scott Rice

    Did you see the new Schwinn CycleNAV?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, I was trying to find it, but didn't succeed. Given what I saw elsehwere online about it, it reminds me a lot of the Hammerhead navigation unit that we saw on a Kickstarter-like site. I'm not 100% sure there's a big market for that in that physical footprint (size). But, I'm interested in poking at it more.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Ok, teaches me to work backwards in e-mail today. Just found a note from the Schwinn folks, going to follow-up and see if I can get a unit on-hand.

      Reply
  27. I second the commenter from your Day 1 round-up: really interested in hearing about the WearIt watch if you get the chance.

    Maybe they're blowing smoke or miles away from production -but if not- they'll be the first device comparable to the Motoactv (standalone wi-fi, gps, bluetooth, Ant+, music, etc) to reach the market since the Motoactv.

    As an aside, interested in whether anyone out there is working on an android based swimming app (to rival the functionality of the Garmin Swim) with all these android based devices coming down the pipe.

    Reply
  28. Steve

    Bkool looks good, but what are my options with only a Mac and iPad (no PC)?

    Wait for iPad app in Summer?
    But what about the video upload tool for VIRB etc, will that only be PC based?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      On BKOOL, unfortunately, yes that's the only options today. You could Bootcamp it however. Depending on how quickly they integrate the ANT+ trainer profile, that could help. Hopefully they see the value in doing that as quickly as possible, since they would likely give you Trainer Road and Kinomap support (TR has committed supporting it near immediately, and Kinomap has said in the past they'd probably support it quickly too). Both of those work on Apple platforms.

      As for VIRB, hmm, they only showed a PC version before. I'll ask if they're doing a Mac version.

      Reply
  29. Stone

    The 4iiii pods does not contain any memory right?
    It would be nice to be able to log HR all day also if you leave the phone behind once in a while.

    By the way... A big thank you for a great status on the sports electronics from CES!!!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I'll check with them.

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Ok, they confirmed all pods have 2MB of storage in them. In general, if you look at .FIT files with GPS and lots of ANT+ data streams, they're about 100KB per hour, so you're roughly looking at 20 hours of data, depending on the data stream. I've seen some ANT+ .FIT files though closer to 20KB per hour too.

      Reply
  30. Lachlan Simpson

    Did Garmin have any news on new firmware for Edge 810 and Garmin Connect app? Do they read the issues people are feeding back on their forums?

    Thanks for great reviews and info

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Nothing new there.

      Fwiw, they are making some progress though on expanding support in their own forums. Albeit, not all product teams yet have jumped on that. But some teams are doing a good job there (Vector being the best, VIRB Edit team, and to a lesser extent Forerunner). I suspect you'll see that expand.

      Reply
  31. Gingerneil

    The Viiiva mini looks awesome. I've ordered a non-hrm 220 with a view to going for a wrist sensor rather than a strap. Any thoughts the relative pros/cons of this versus the mio that you've had a chance to look at? The Viiiva looks to be cheaper, better and have a much improved battery life on first indications. I wonder if they will be available in the UK to the same March dates?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hard to say at this point, since the Viiiiva units weren't operational at the show. So I'd like to see how they stand up in real world usage before committing/commenting one way or the other.

      Reply
    • Gingerneil replied

      Thanks Ray - I'll look forward to seeing your reviews/comparisons.

      Reply
  32. Eli

    Were you on the Beddit kickstart? Seems like the devices are shipping this week to kickstarters so maybe you could compare to the Withings Aura? Seems like the Withings device does the same tracking and just adds a bedside lamp.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, I didn't jump in on that one. Also tried finding them at CES on the floor without much luck.

      Reply
  33. Jérôme

    Ray,
    Nothing to say about the new Garmin Connect Redesign ?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I noted it a bit in the Vivofit post. I've got another piece coming up with more detail on it though. Since it's not public yet I'm working to get screenshots/etc...

      Reply
  34. Eli

    How do the LG headphones compare to the Intel headphones that also do heart rate and were announced at CES?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Intel pulled the headphones off the floor. I went over to chat, but they decided to yank them by mid-day Tuesday (first day of show). They weren't clear as to why however, nor would they bring them out for a chat.

      Reply
  35. Brian

    Was Computrainer at CES? You mentioned that all the major trainers have signed on to the ANT+ Trainer Control profile but no mention of Computrainer? Are they being left in the dust or are they planning to get their act together?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They were not there (though, they've never gone historically to me knowledge). Nor have they committed to jumping onboard, nor even hinted at jumping onboard the control profile.

      On the bright side, they did at least join the ANT+ Alliance last fall adding in ANT+ heart rate monitor support.

      Reply
  36. Kyle

    As a cycling, climbing and running diabetic I am curious to see how ant+ continuous glucose monitoring works out, especially with FDA approval as a hurdle. Once medical things get involved it gets all sorts of crazy. I'm also to see their sensor accuracy, life span, and accuracy over the lifespan. Dexcom is a good standard for me, and I love it, but it's something extra I always have to have on the bike, in a pocket, etc.

    Cgms for diabetics makes it so much easier to manage during exercise (and everyday life). Bonking is not an option. If you look closely at some team novo nordisk athletes you can see their cgms bump. If it could be sent to a garmin it would be one less item on the bike. I really hope they can get it into ant+.

    Reply
    • Lahrs replied

      Kyle, I'm in the same boat. Dexcom has talked up ANT+ integration also. Fingers crossed.

      Reply
  37. Michael Lueghausen

    Any news about KEO POWER Pedals? Pricing for update to BTLE? Availability date?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They haven't finalized it yet unfortunately. We did discuss. Timeline is definitely June (at latest). They plan to offer a BTLE upgrade kit of sorts, which is essentially just new pedal pods (that I previewed at Interbike). The price is TBD, but they were hoping for sub-$100 (perhaps sub-$100 by a fair margin).

      Reply
  38. Per

    Hi
    Thank you for Your great blog :-)
    I am considering buying the tomtom multisport watch and would like to know if there is coming
    a new updated model or it is safe enough to by the one on thet marked right now ?
    Best regards
    Per

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They've mostly been talking about updates on the software side, for example, phone support coming up. Obviously, like other companies, they don't pre-announce new models, and given TomTom has only released one unit thus far (I suppose technically two depending on how you look at it), it's hard to establish a release cycle/cadence for them (i.e. 1 year, 2 years, etc...).

      Reply
  39. Sam

    Ray,

    For the FR620, what is the difference between a GPS chipset firmware update and a watch firmware update? Will the watch auto update for the GPS chipset update? Thanks for the help!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      A GPS chipset update is specifically for the tiny little GPS chip in the unit. It doesn't impact any other portion of the watch, and is solely targeted at updating software in that piece. This type of change isn't surfaced to the end user. The GPS chipset firmware would come from the GPS chipset maker (some component maker contracted by Garmin).

      Whereas the FR620 firmware covers all operations of the unit, and comes from Garmin. This is where you'd see new features and the like come from.

      In both cases, they'll come down like any other update.

      Reply
  40. sam

    Nice to hear that Garmin are working on next generation product.
    It will be even nicer to hear if Garmin plan to improve the quality of their product.
    Proposal about your good comparison review is to add a quality review.
    I mean a product should live more than 2 years, they are small price product with much better quality than Garmin gadget. Why not open the watch to let see how they are made.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It'd be tough, and honestly that early in a product cycle you wouldn't know anything. If I look back at Garmin products, the issue is very rarely hardware build quality. It's software build quality that tends to be tough. So I cover software quality in reviews, since that's about the only part one can do. Unless something is obvious, or obvious enough that it breaks in my review, anything else would be a pretty big guess.

      Reply
    • sam replied

      For quality, I will refer more about your waterproof advice.
      I do not swim but I run in any weather, rain, snow, cold, warm.
      In case of less than 2h run in rain and cold temperature, trouble with humidity on 305 and 210 that should not appear for IPX7 watch of that price.
      With cheaper watch at 35$ price, I never got trouble in rain and cold weather.

      That's why I appreciate your waterproof test, that's important for a runner as well.

      Reply
  41. Mikey T

    The Casio offering looks seriously dated in it 's design.

    Reply
  42. sassda

    hum,
    that casio watch seems interesting.
    I was thinking of getting a magellan echo, but now I am not sure.
    Although I want to use ismoothrun with it, and I am not sure if it will be
    supported, I guess in theory it should since its the same protocol.
    Would you wait?

    Reply
  43. Ben

    Hi Ray,

    I was really interested in the Skulpt Aim, whose indigogo you posted a month back. Did you happen to swing by their booth or otherwise know anything about the legitimacy/usefulness/etc. of their product? I am very intrigued, and am thinking of funding, but I can find virtually zero reviews or credible weigh-ins.

    Thanks for any information here and all the other fantastic posts.

    Reply
  44. Joshua

    So still no mention of a 920 release? Just wink if they've mentioned it but you can't say anything.... wait did you just wink or were you just blinking?

    I was so hopeful of it happening at CES and was kind of hopeful with the Polar V800 announcement, maybe they would get some pressure and at least announce it coming Q2 or even Q3. Frustrating because it seems the 620 has hardware (i.e., accelerometer) to do what the Garmin swim does, has the GPS to be the 910 swim outdoor, and add on the bike capabilities they've apparently announced and it is close enough for government work. That Polar V800 looks promising though. If it comes out and the full-feature review looks good, I might leave the Garmin camp instead of waiting. I just want the 910 in a 620 profile Garmin! Help a guy out!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      As for a new variant of the FR910XT, Garmin doesn’t pre-announce products. They announce and do all the PR stuff once they’re ready to announce the product.

      Reply
  45. Shannon

    I'm interested to know more about the Withings sleep monitor. How would it register something like sleep disturbed because of a midnight visit from my 2 year old? Just as a sleep disturbance? Also, would the data get totally messed up if she got into bed with me and we were both on the sensor pad?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, not sure. And unfortunately, I lack said 2-year old, so it's gonna be a bit tough to test. And no, you may not lend me your two year old. ;)

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      But you seem so good to most of the stuff sent to you for testing and always send it back

      Reply
  46. Glucovation device availability is not so much dependent on the length of the regulatory process, (it should be a lower class since it is for non-diabetics, think performance athlete), but more a function of funding. We will be conducting a crowdfunding campaign, (probably Indiegogo), in March. With next level funding we could move much faster.

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      Looking forward to it. Hoping not being for diabetics as it doesn't have to be as reliable allows you to get the price much lower then the continuous monitors diabetics use. Not saying your device will be unreliable, but our lives won't depend on it so is sort of like how heart rate straps in athletic devices sometimes have dropouts or spikes that don't really matter as they aren't hooked up to pace makers.

      Reply
  47. Fenitua

    The biggest news for me in all that is that Garmin connect website is getting a much needed refurb. I suspect it will coincide around the release of their Vivofit band (release late March?)

    Ray, no doubt the folks at Garmin are aware of your experience with Strava, Training Peaks and such.
    I hope they have being soliciting opinion from you on what you believe the next Garmin connect website needs to offer, specifically to lessen the need for Garmin customers to venture beyond with their data.

    I see on their announcement last week that they showed a screenshot of the app. It is a shame they didn’t add a sneak preview of the website.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      We're talking, a fair bit. Whether or not they listen on the API/portability front is a different question. The app screenshot...is actually the website. ;)

      Hang tight, I'm working with them to get enough screenshots to put together a bit of a preview.

      Reply
    • Eli replied

      preview of the site:
      link to youtube.com

      Reply
  48. Michael Gross

    I just opened another case with Garmin per 620 tracking. Most days the data is spot on but last night the tracking a freaky again. This morning spot on... I sent them the file to see if that will help them figure this out...

    Reply
  49. Acatri.St

    Hey gang, do we know if Wahoo has released an app update so the Viiiiva ant-to-bt bridge can be read (and displayed by Wahoo iPhone app) on Multichannel mode? Below Ray and Wahoo-guy mentioned February. Thanks!

    Reply
  50. Havelaar

    I'm tempted by the 4iiii Viiiiva Mini Heart Rate Pod. When placed on the thigh under the cylcing shorts, it should be possible to leverage its accelerometer as cadence sensor. Does 4iiii have plans to implement that feature?

    Reply
  51. 6co2000

    Hello Ray,

    do you know of any progress made for the BKOOL ANT+ Trainer Control profile?
    when is this going to be readt?

    thank you!
    6co

    Reply

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