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My 2014 ANT+ Symposium Keynote Presentation

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It’s been five years now that I’ve been presenting a keynote session at the ANT+ Symposium.  The annual event each September represents a solid cross section of the sports technology industry, with just about everyone present.  And the crowd isn’t limited to just ANT+ device makers, the vast majority of companies present also make Bluetooth  sensors and devices.

Like past years you’ll find both watch and phone makers like Garmin and Samsung present, as well as companies like Wahoo, 4iiii’s, SRM, Quarq, Mio, Scosche, CycleOps and pretty much anyone making a heart rate sensor or bike/running sensor.  Plus, many medical and wellness focused companies are present as well.

While some had speculated there might be a decline in membership at the Symposium, I’ve gotta say it felt more packed than years past.  Here’s a photo I took on the opening morning:

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Now as for my presentation, it was mostly focused at the industry, rather than end consumers.  After all, that’s the segment I’m presenting to.  But more importantly, I’m really channeling the hundreds of comments and e-mails I get from you every day.  Then I’m consolidating that into what are applicable as themes/trends to present to this group.

Obviously, there may be specific per-company items, many of which I do actually touch on in this presentation.  But others I bring up in separate sessions with those companies directly depending on the item.

Now despite the venue being the ANT+ Symposium, virtually my entire talk is ‘cross platform’.  I’m speaking on sports technology as a whole, not a specific protocol.

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This year I split things up into two different core sections.  The first was a focus on wearables and smart watches.  There’s been a lot of hype (and real products) the last 12-18 months in that space, culminating in the Apple Watch announcement last month.  So I talk about what that means for the companies in the room, as well as my views on the Apple Watch.  I spend a fair bit of time talking about standards and the importance of them – with very specific (and probably painful for the room) examples of why consumers are demanding companies follow these standards.

The second half of the presentation is a bit of a whirlwind of thoughts on different sports technology areas such as action cams, power meters, activity trackers, and the products that excite me the most for the next year.

With that, if you’ve got about an hour to spare, you can watch the whole thing below.  The ANT+ folks were kind enough to mix together the slides and the video portion on one view, so you can easily skim along if there’s a specific section that interests you.

Additionally, if you’d like to download this year’s presentation (PDF), you can do so below (it’s sorta big).  Further, I’ve also linked to the 2010-2014 presentation files and to the 2011-2014 video clips.

DC Rainmaker 2014 ANT+ Symposium Presentation (Watch here/above)
DC Rainmaker 2013 ANT+ Symposium Presentation (Watch here)
DC Rainmaker 2012 ANT+ Symposium Presentation (Watch here)
DC Rainmaker 2011 ANT+ Symposium Presentation (Watch here)
DC Rainmaker 2010 ANT+ Symposium Presentation

Note that while there were a few minor new announcements at the ANT+ Symposium, the only major one of interest to most here would be the Garmin Connect IQ that I posted on then.  Most companies in this segment tend to make new product announcements at shows like Eurobike/Interbike/CES.

That said, you’ll see some minor new product postings from me in the coming days such as Wahoo’s new Blue SC that now includes dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart transmission (previously just Bluetooth Smart).  Also, you’ll see in the coming weeks more information here on the InsideRide rollers that actually support the new ANT+ Trainer Profile.  And next week you’ll see my test results from the Moxy Muscle Oxygen sensor.  Nothing like doing what is effectively a VO2Max test at 5,000ft and severely jetlagged.

Finally, here’s one small ‘behind the scenes’ photo from the few days I spent there in Kananaskis (it’s in Alberta, Canada).  It was shortly before my presentation actually, where I spent some time out in the woods getting final product shots.  You know, just a few thousand dollars in watches sitting on/around a stump.

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Thankfully despite the semi-nearby warning signs about bears, none of Yogi’s friends interrupted me.  Though, Bambi and family did a few times.

Hope everyone has a great weekend ahead!  And thanks for reading (or watching, in this case)!

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46 Comments

  1. Greg S

    Nice Speech…surprised you weren’t sporting like 15 wearable’s to get a good laugh as you try to check the time on all of them at once!

  2. Nathaniel

    Your ANT+ presentation is like Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report for sports technology. Love it!

  3. MAGNUS

    A good watch. Thanks for sharing and all your work.

  4. Talk beyond itself? Timex datalink was earlier then 2000, as it was 94: link to en.wikipedia.org

    No mention of how google fit will compete with Apple’s healthkit. Healthkit may be better, I’m not sure, but it will be locked to Apple’s platform so won’t have the same market penetration. (i.e. that 80% market for being a standard) Haven’t seen MS do anything with their healthvault product as they seem more interested in health. Just thought I’d live up to the end part of your speech about taking it personally :-p

    Doesn’t Suunto and Polar use their own file formats?

    You link the ambit as “all good” with the Mio link optical HR monitor. But that one doesn’t do true r-r intervals so doesn’t that screw up some of the ambit’s algorithms? (recovery data)

    comments nitpicking? who does that? :-p

    • Datalink you say. That was a fine watch :) link to dropbox.com

    • David Lusty

      Polar do use a format they developed, but it actually is a standard and has been since way before the other formats arrived, and does have wide support. Garmin use their own standard too, but due to popularity, people who started with Garmin think that Polar are the ones who did something different :)

    • Suunto now uses .FIT & .TCX, so no problems there.

      Polar used .HRM before there was GPS, whcih was just fine…until the world moved on. So then they added .GPX, another standard file. The problem is two standards don’t make a right, because then people had to tote around two files to sites that only supported one.

      As of note, Polar saw the light though, and uses .TCX. ;)

  5. Ralph

    What is the watches on the stump? Is it Casio?

  6. Steve W

    Interesting presentation. Cool to see/hear you talking after reading your posts always.

  7. raven

    Seemed a bit nervous starting out, but you did well in the speech, and thanks for representing the readers so well!

    Apple’s HealthKit is worth supporting, I think; yes, it only works with Apple devices, but many of those people tend to spend more on apps, accessories, etc; and additionally, HealthKit is a read/write platform, so the data itself is not locked in, and a cross-platform app could read data to use for its services and re-serve that data back to Android devices, for example. In the last few days, Fitbit has made some news as they mentioned in their forums that they don’t currently plan to offer HealthKit support which has led to backlash, bad publicity on Mac focused news sites, which could hurt them if they announce a Force successor for this holiday season. Fitbit offers a premium service for an up charge, and surprise, surprise, one of that services’ features is data export, so I imagine they see HealthKit support as cutting into their money but that’s horribly shortsighted.

    As for the Apple Watch, it’s a major opportunity for other players if they can make better focused devices under the $349 starting price of that. Pebble dropping to $99 is a good example. Misfit releasing the new Flash at $50 is also interesting. Even if activity tracking as a separate thing might be fading (I agree with this), Misfit’s waterproofing and fashion-focus are appealing features.

    For the ANT+ crowd, the main issue I see for them is explaining the benefits of that technology over Bluetooth for people new to this space. One might use an Android or iPhone to get started with fitness, then want to add or do something different, whether that’s just adding heart rate data or switching to a dedicated GPS watch, and I think for most people will have a much higher awareness of Bluetooth than ANT+ which wouldn’t be a problem if everything “just worked” but things don’t always do so as the presentation here talks about.

    • Thanks.

      “HealthKit is a read/write platform, so the data itself is not locked in, and a cross-platform app could read data to use for its services and re-serve that data back to Android devices”

      I think the second half is somewhat the challenge. Data doesn’t sit on a cloud anywhere, but rather, sits on your device. Specifically, your iOS device. Thus how people move that data elsewhere will be reliant on 3rd parties. Most 3rd party apps only load data into HealthKit for specific purposes. For example, today Garmin just updates steps in HealthKit, but doesn’t know anything about some of the medical fields.

  8. Tosin

    Your voice is lower than I thought it would be. Also, how many people in the room do you think didn’t know anything about you prior to your presentation?

    • I would guess that 80-90% of the room knew of Ray before the presentation. It’s only the first time there people that may not know about him. The “I have a problem with wearable’s” introduction to the round table session earlier in the day got a suitable response from most of the audience.

    • I’d agree with Ifor, most folks at the ANT+ Symposium come back year after year. Additionally, there was a session I did in the morning on a panel about wearables so I talked a bit there with a touch bit of background on me.

  9. Francis C

    I can be a cupcake taster for free :) Hehehe. I’m still in awe with how you manage your time Ray. Keep it up and thanks.

  10. Greg Emerson

    Your comment during the 25th minute, “it just Works” factor is totally true in my buying decisions. I use a Magellan Echo but it did not work well with MapMyRuns so I switched to Strava. When MapMyRun did its recent update and it worked with my Echo, I switched back and purchased the MVP package. It works great and controls all my music and has a great screen presence and metric on the web. It just works.

  11. Ian Blackburn

    Excellent presentation Ray – and a good insight into the industry. Many thanks for posting.

  12. Scott E

    You are right, standards are key. Though consistency may be the real truth. Apple has it pretty easy with a locked in Eco system and customer base – that in itself promotes an indirect de facto standard. As an engineer it is easy to drive what you think is best, and keep evolving with enhancements and add ons. Yet engineers are terrible at seeing the larger product category that involves end user “workflow”, which goes to the “it just works”. (Note self-loathing as I’m an engineer who has learned the hard way buy being put into the position of technical support for family and friends for all things technical – seriously Ray, how do you keep your sanity with so many devices with so many bugs and nits)

    Oh, and your product photographic shots are always so cool. I play the game of guessing where and how you made the shot. Amazing how you extract studio like quality in the oddest of places.

  13. Hugo

    Nice presentation, well done.

    I think it’s good that that companies have a better idea of what people really want or what they feel frustrated by (smartphone compatibility is a good one). And the advice to interact more with their customers was also quite valuable.

    Keep it going.

  14. I feel like during your speech, especially during the intro, you were trying to crack jokes and the audience was all crickets. I thought it was great though!

  15. Thanks for sharing! Really informative, like the one last year.
    FYI : The sound starts to be little weird at 21:37

  16. Matěj Novotný

    Thank You for posting video from Symposium. It was good speech.

  17. Gabe

    Nicely done Ray!

    Your presentation speaks volumes for we athletes and your integrity is more than appreciated.

    Nicely done Ray!

  18. morey000

    wow. can’t believe I actually watched that. :) Good presentation.

  19. Long Run Nick

    Thanks Ray, I learned a lot. I think your presentation was spot on. You didn’t wince in giving your honest thoughts and opinions to an audience that has to realize that the world is changing, and they may have to move out of their comfort zone to remain competitive.
    As a guy who has done stand up comedy, I think you were wise to present in the manner you did. Your professionalism and reputation was enhanced by the way you conducted yourself.
    If you need some lighter(comic) pieces for presentations let me know. I realize that some folks in highly technical fields only smile when they have gas pains :) Nick

  20. René Rolighed

    BIG kudos for you part on standardization. The product companies really need to realize just how important this is! Thanks.

  21. Jose I

    Good presentation. Thanks. I hope they listen.

  22. Mark Liversedge

    Excellent stuff Ray .. “Creation/Adoption of Profiles is simply taking too long”

    WELL SAID !!!!

  23. Sean

    In what was the venue the symposium was held? I live in Calgary, camp in Kananaskis and didn’t realize there was a big enough development out there.

  24. Robert Taylor

    Was curious after your presentation and perhaps in your long dealings with the various companies, this question may be redundant, but was there any viable feedback to your presentation by the audience?

    • Many of the comments I tend to hear from companies afterwards are often around validating specific points that they’ve been trying to push to management, or, to others on the team. They find what I say in that respect useful.

      There were some specific good discussion points afterwards with one of the larger companies around the 3G piece, and some of the issues they’ve had in the past with their 3G products and certifications. Essentially, a small startup will often sidestep the legal wireless compliance issues, whereas a major player (one of the big three), can’t, and get’s stuck in it for years. Very valid, but, I still maintain that’s the direction players will go.

      Lots of discussion around optical afterwards, and specific providers of the technology. It’s fair to say the big three are all very interested in the technology, but they’re also very keen to ensure they don’t get the 5% backlash that has occurred in some cases with other optical HR watch companies – whereas 95% of units work perfectly for people, but perhaps 5% just don’t work on a given person with their skin/hair/whatever.

  25. Matt Gow

    Great presentation Ray. It would be great to see more video presentations on your site. Product reviews & tutorials?

    • I’ve been attempting to add in video ‘first look’ type posts to all my recent product review/announcement posts. Mostly, because I can knock them out in about 10 minutes as a single-take and so it’s reasonably quick and easy for me.

      I probably won’t dive too much into more complex video shoots, simply because I find that the whole video workflow just takes a really long time to get right.

  26. Rohan

    Ray, I’m interested that as your responses say:

    – “most folks at the ANT+ Symposium come back year after year” (while you’ve been speaking there for the last 5 years), and
    – “Many of the comments I tend to hear from companies afterwards are often around validating specific points that they’ve been trying to push to management, or, to others on the team. They find what I say in that respect useful.”

    Do you think most of the people in the room already know/agree with what you are saying? What they get is an industry expert (that’s you) that they can refer to, to help direct the rest of the company. It seems to me like there is nothing new in your presentation – it’s all covered by your blog posts already.

  27. David M

    You made a very important (to me) comment near the end. How does the information provided make you a better (or faster) runner? I find this to be at the heart of many support platforms and websites.

    With HR zone theories, lactate thresholds, heart rate variability, etc., we have wonderful data but the exact training variations that should result are ambiguous. Clearly the over- vs under-training input is helpful, but often even those recommendations are disputed in user comments. Some data are easier to comprehend such as zone training. Others are more subtle such as HR variability and directionality they give to your training. [As an aside, Kubios is a remarkable analysis source for HRV, but the exploitation of the measurements seems ambiguous. Maybe I just haven’t figured it all out.] What I find, though, is that there is a great resource of data, but websites do not necessarily thoroughly drive training choices. Readers comment on their preferred analysis websites, but in going to some of them, mostly it seems they have formatting differences. Is there a comprehensive review anywhere of what different websites offer that uses data in reliable ways to drive training choices? Are the real benefits of a particular website really so strong that we should all be looking to transfer our total HRM data to them?

    Or, are we supposed to be the experts at training and simply use the data to inform us of our current status?

    Your comment in your very interesting presentation spurred my question here… although this might be the best spot for the question.

    • I’m thinking big data may play a role in this. Strava, garmin connect, and other site have lots of data about people’s workouts and their progress so may be useful to figure out trends. It’s much easier to collect lots of data then do something useful with it

  28. Néstor

    Hi, Ray. Have you planned a Moxy Monitor review?
    Thanks for all your post.

  29. I think android wear may be a bigger that to dedicated watches then Apple’s watch. Wear doesn’t require a phone for gps as one reason. link to arstechnica.com

  30. Luiz

    Hi, Ray!
    Read all your posts! Great!
    Huge fan of you and The lovely Girl!
    Have a question:
    I use a Samsung Galaxy 4. It has ant+ support. But what is the use for it?
    How can I use the phone as a sport device? What apps????
    Thanks!

  31. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Any 2015 talk post planned?