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Polar shows off GoPro camera control, new H10 heart rate strap

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While Polar started off the week with an announcement about their new wearable shirt that has integrated heart rate sensors in it, they began today announcing details on GoPro camera control and a new H10 heart rate strap.  I got the chance to dive into both last night, giving you an early look at what’s to come over the coming months.

GoPro Camera Control:

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First up is Polar’s integration with GoPro.  You may remember last spring the two companies announced integration which would allow data from a Polar device to be overlaid onto a GoPro action cam. While that hasn’t come to fruition yet (sounds like maybe March, maybe not, call me maybe), they are instead pushing out control over your GoPro from your wearable.

Later this month the Polar V800 GPS watch will receive a firmware update that enables the GoPro control.  At present that’s the Hero5 series, along with the Hero 4 Silver/Black.  There’s a possibility that the GoPro Hero4 Session may get it, but that’s still up in the air.  Then by the end of March, the Polar M600 Android Wear GPS watch will also receive the same update, granting it action cam powers as well.

Let’s dive into how it works.  First, you’ll pair up the Polar to your GoPro in basically the same way you’d pair a GoPro remote.  It does this via Bluetooth Smart, an important point that we’ll circle back to in a moment.

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In the final firmware, you’ll see the camera on the sport profile screen in much the same way you’d see a HR sensor once paired (little HR icon, bike icon, etc…).  You can also access this from a non-sport mode as well.  Once you’ve opened up the GoPro page, you’ll see the current mode of the GoPro.  At this moment, you can’t change the mode from the Polar app, rather, it’s more of a confirmation.  When you press the mode button on the GoPro, it’ll instantly reflect that on the Polar – even to the settings page.

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Of course, the main advantage here is being able to start and stop recording.  You’ll press the middle button, which triggers the starting/stopping of recording video.  Or, if you’re in photo mode, it takes a picture.  It simply follows whatever the GoPro recording button would do natively.

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Next, you may have noticed that the Polar unit reflects the state of the camera from a battery/storage/photos standpoint. So it’s showing how much battery life is left on the GoPro, as well as the current recording time of the video, plus the storage remaining.

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The last trick up the sleeve is the ability to take a highlight tag.  This is probably the coolest feature, and is brilliantly implemented. Simply whack the Polar watch, and instantly a highlight tag is recorded.  These tags are used by GoPro’s Quik software when doing automatic video compilations.  Or, you can just use them manually to find the best (or worst) parts of your day.

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Now one disadvantage of the GoPro control is that it’s going to block your ability to connect to Bluetooth Smart sensors on your watch.  So that means you won’t be able to connect to a speed/cadence sensor, or a Bluetooth Smart HR strap.  You *can* though connect to the analog signal on the V800, meaning you can still connect to an H7/H10 strap.  This restriction is simply because the V800 goes into a different Bluetooth mode to connect to the GoPro, which blocks inbound connections.

Of course, this being a post about video – I’ve got a video for ya.  Here’s how everything works (plus the H10 strap I talk about down below), in one tidy video:

Again, the round-up of compatibility here is:

Polar V800: Firmware update coming later in January
Polar M600: Firmware update coming by end of March
GoPro Compatibility: Hero5 cameras, Hero4 Silver/Black, and Hero4 Session maybe

The lack of other cameras is simply because they lack Bluetooth Smart.

Polar H10 Heart Rate Strap:

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Next up we’ve got a new heart rate strap from Polar, the H10 ($89).  This is essentially the next generation H7 strap. As such, it has dual Bluetooth Smart and analog signals, meaning it’ll work with your gym treadmills and such.

The strap has some minor external changes.  First is that it has extra electrode sensors on it, which will roughly align to the sides of your chest.  The goal here being to increase accuracy.

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Then you’ll notice a slight change in the clasp of the strap itself.

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But it’s the changes under the hood that are most notable.  In the pod they’ve now got storage, so it’ll be able to record your workout even if your watch isn’t nearby.  This is similar to the Wahoo TICKR Run/X series, as well as Garmin’s HRM-TRI units.

In the case of Polar, when you return from your workout you’ll be able to use the Polar Beat app to download the workout (just HR data, no accelerometer/distance/pace data at this time).  That workout can in turn be sent up to the Polar Flow website, where you can dig into the stats.

The other under the hood notable on the H10 is that it supports concurrent connections as a Bluetooth Smart sensor, specifically from the GoPro cameras.  This isn’t Bluetooth 5.0, but rather 4.2, and is enabling you to then concurrently use the H10 with something like the GoPro camera directly (coming by end of Q1) and your watch/bike computer.

Note if you check out the video above, I show a bit more within that of the H10 as well.

With that – thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to check out all the CES 2017 coverage, as well as continual updates throughout the day on Twitter.  It’s gonna be a crazy busy week.

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48 Comments

  1. Martin Mortensen

    CES overload has hit DCRainmaker. An error has snuck into the first line of the article “While GoPro started off the week..”, that should have been Polar, right?

    Love the blog and fantastic work you do!

    Reply
  2. BartW

    Ray,
    already asked in the Fenix5 post, about the Suunto HR with memory and now the Polar H10,
    can the Fenix5 use the recorded data in these straps?
    Is it a official bluetooth specification used by Suunto and Polar or are they both developing their own version which the Garmin of course can’t use.

    Reply
    • BartW

      Just in short: Can i buy this Polar H10 in stead for example Garmin HRM-Tri

      Reply
    • There’s actually no standard I’m aware of on BLE that allows HR storage/transfer. Thus, Wahoo, Suunto, Polar, etc… all do it differently.

      There is technically a standard on ANT+ for transfer of that data, so someone like Wahoo could actually implement it, and allow HRM-TRI like downloads from Garmin.

      All of which is a reason why you won’t see the Fenix5 download from Polar’s H10 – since that isn’t following any specific standard (whereas baseline HR transmission is).

      Reply
    • BartW

      Thanks for the answer.
      I was hoping their might be an (hidden) addition to the existing specification which allowed buffering and resending data since init.
      Once again it looks like every manufacturer is reinventing the wheel.

      Reply
    • Niilo

      There is actually a service for moving files (object transfer) around in BLE but it has not become very common. It is build on a new feature in Bluetooth 4.1 that never has become commonly implemented in phones. This feature increases efficiency by implementing something that looks like a TCP like channel and there is no transport protocol.

      Reply
    • Is that service available within the HR profile though – or just as a general published spec?

      Reply
    • Niilo

      There is a convention for how to move data from various services, like HR, around but I actually don’t remember if it is published. It is not difficult, though.

      It’s is very nice. A sensor can open one or many files and store data directly on a watch. A sensor can have an object file system and store data locally. A watch can pick up the object later. Everything extremely efficient without any overhead than the link layer and multiplexer. The multiplexer allows data moving between various open ports. Each port is a file.

      An object has a uuid for identification and the Sig lists the uuids. An object can also have a method attached for example a firmware object can trigger a software update.

      Reply
  3. Martin

    Bluetooth is about transfering, not string.

    Reply
  4. rabbit

    Maybe we see this also for garmin Fenix 5 series and others garmin devices?
    Or did anybody thought, that garmin allows bt smart hrm belts from other polar etc. and now it is possible with f5 series…

    Reply
    • The Garmin watches by and large already have this for the VIRB Action cam series. If Garmin were to open up Connect IQ to allow allow Bluetooth Smart connections, then in theory someone could develop an app for GoPro too.

      Reply
  5. Chris Benten

    Seems like a new, multiple item protocol needs to be developed.

    Reply
    • It’s already there. 😉

      Technically both Bluetooth 4.3 as well as Bluetooth 5.0 support it. As does of course ANT+. Just a case of getting hardware/firmware updated to support these standards.

      Reply
  6. mahead

    Well this could be really great news as I just happen to buy yesterday GoPro Hero+ for 99 euros from sale. I’m also using Polar V800, but was sad to notice that Hero+ isn’t mentioned in compatible devices. However, you noted that other cameras are missing simply because they are lacking bluetooth smart. Could this mean that Hero+ could be also supported, since it seems to have Bluetooth Smart capabilities (as per your own notes; okay that was about Hero+ LCD model, but I’m hoping there isn’t more differences than missing LCD panel…). At least Hero+ supports also their own remote control.

    Reply
  7. John

    If you connect the go pro directly to the H10 when it is available will this mean you can still use the control feature from the watch or will the go pro need to be connected directly to the watch?

    with the h10 being multi channel bluetooth im assuming you will be able to connect to speed senors etc but will you still be able to see this info on the watch?

    Reply
    • Mike@PolarUSA

      One will be able to control the camera with the V800 simultaneously as the H10 works with the GoPro camera.

      Reply
  8. Jens Rasmussen

    Is the Bluetooth in the Fenix 5 version 4.3 so that it would support multiple BT sensors?

    Does the H10 support the WIND protocol? As in, can it be used with e.g. the Polar RCX5/RC3? When using the analog protocol, does it support HR wegen swimming?

    Lot of questions :). Great work as always!

    Reply
    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The H10 does not support the W.I.N.D protocol. It does however communicate on the 5 kHz coded frequency making it compatible with the RCX5.

      Reply
    • Jens Rasmussen

      Great.

      Does it broadcast both protocols at the same time? For showing HR on my RCX5 and a bike trainer app at the same time.

      Reply
    • Jens Rasmussen

      Saw your answer below, thanks! (yes it does)

      Reply
  9. Steven Shaw

    It’s a bit disappointing that the v800 can’t record from sensors and control the GoPro. I was hoping the point of this was to get sensor metrics into a video like Garmin does in virb edit.

    Since the h10 supports concurrent connections, can it send information to a v800 and v650 concurrently (I bet I know the answer to that already).

    I have a v800 and v650, but ultimately it is the little niggles that keep me using Garmin devices, despite the v800 in particular being a very good watch indeed.

    Reply
    • Mike@PolarUSA

      One would be able to use the H10 (as well as the current H7) simultaneously with the V800 and V650. It’s with the understanding that the V650 would be receiving the Bluetooth transmission while the V800 would be on the 5 kHz coded frequency.

      Reply
    • Nils

      So it is not possible to use two headunits with the H10 via BT? The only reason for me to buy the H10 would be if I can get the HR data on my V800 and on e.g. a Wahoo Elemnt which is not possible with the H7. 5 kHz is no option since I can’t disconnect the H7 from the V800 in T1 during races. Hopefully it will be possible since this is the only missing feature while using the V800.

      Reply
  10. Daniel

    This is a lot less compared to the original post made by polar with the YouTube movie (link to m.youtube.com). From that movie you took that the v800 would feed all sorts of data into GoPro.

    I wonder how useful the operation is going to be with a polar v800 as remote. I sure wouldn’t want to highlight while descending or jumping on skies or mountain bike.

    Is there any indication whether that is still in the planning for the foreseeable future?

    Bye.

    Reply
    • Everything sounded very much in flux there. It sounds like things will become clear in March for how that’s going to happen.

      I got the impression that GoPro will be taking on the video portion, meaning that Polar is going to deliver data via BLE, and then it’s up to GoPro from there. And quite frankly, that’s how it should be. There’s no good reason for either company to have Polar start doing video editing suites.

      Reply
  11. MayorJustin

    Any word on improved accuracy in the pool? My H7 rarely shows anything other than 119 bpm when using my V800 in the pool

    Reply
  12. Ryan Lowdermilk

    My favorite part of this article is, “In the case of Polar, when you return from your workout you’ll be able to use the Polar Beat app to download the workout (just HR data, no accelerometer/distance/pace data at this time).” At. this. time. :)

    Per the FCC filing in 2016, Polar describes the heart rate strap as: “BLE, 5kHz inductive link, accelerometer”
    link to fccid.io

    Would love if this new strap recorded distance, pace, etc.

    Regardless, I will be purchasing the new strap.

    Nice job, Polar!

    Reply
    • Yup, they were open about there being an accelerometer within it. Just a case of them not committing to a timeline for using that, or how that might be used.

      Reply
  13. Sheh

    “In the pod they’ve now got storage, so it’ll be able to record your workout even if your watch isn’t nearby.”

    I wonder if it is possible to collect the heartbeat data during sleeping with that storage and sync it in the morning. Otherwise how do we trigger H10 to collect the heartbeat data without the watch?

    Reply
    • You could do that, but it’d just show up as a workout.

      Essentially, anytime the H10 is worn, it’s recording data. Effectively like the Garmin/Wahoo straps.

      Reply
  14. Gouke

    Ray, do you think this GoPro control functionality might also be implemented on the Polar M400 watch? That would make me very happy.

    Reply
  15. desar

    >This isn’t Bluetooth 5.0, but rather 4.3
    What is this bluetooth 4.3? Is there any link about this “Bluetooth version 4.3”?.
    The official bluetooth.com is not releasing any 4.3. After 4.2 it just goes to 5.0.
    Unless the Polar guys added something that is not any standard and decided to called it 4.3.
    If that the case, interested on what Bluetooth SIG board directors opinion about that.
    (The spec not allow one client to connect to more than one master, but hey, you can always
    use two chips to achieve that. But we’re not calling that 4.3;)
    Thanks.

    Reply
  16. grzeg1

    I had high hopes for H10’s data recording to be compatible with V800 and work under water the way Garmin’s and Suunto’s HR belts do :(
    Currently used 5kHz transmission is definitely less then ideal, especially outdoors and when wearing a wetsuit. Polar also say that it interferes with GPS in V800.

    Do you know if they consider implementing such features for H10?
    Also: will H10’s firmware be field upgradable so it can be done in the future?

    Reply
  17. Michael Swann

    The Polar V800 just became the world’s most expensive GoPro remote.

    Reply
  18. Polar is still providing updates for their flagship model released back in 2014. Good support, although I hope that Polar will bring a competitor for the Garmin Fenix 5 series … :)

    Reply
    • Steven Shaw

      Given that Garmin is now embracing Bluetooth sensors, It would be great if Polar could provide support for Ant+. I find the one to one Bluetooth connection highly frustrating. Basically when I want to pair a sensor I find it has usually connected to my iPhone first, which I use for trainerroad, so I have to switch off Bluetooth on that first.

      I had high hopes for the polar v800, and in many ways I think it is a terrific watch, especially given the various updates that have been provided in the years I have owned it. Trouble is I just find my Fenix 3 easier to use. As a triathlete, I like to record everything on the watch but use a bike computer for the bike leg. Easy with my Fenix 3 and edge 520, not so with the the v800 and v650 due to only one device being able to pick up the sensors. I realise I can get heart rate to go to both by using the 5khz signal, but can’t use speed/cadence.

      I’m still happy though to try Polars next effort. Infact I really like the look of the m600. If that did ant+ I would have bought one already. Initially I thought polar flow was pretty rubbish, but now I think I prefer it to connect.

      Reply
  19. Ricardo

    Does the h7 pod would fit in this strap? Any benefit doing it?

    Reply
    • Richard

      I have not seen any images of the pod unclipped. You would imagine that the H7 pod will fit the H10 strap. However will it work correctly with the extra sensors?

      The image of the strap on the Polar website makes the strap look all kinda plastic. Where as it is a fabric in the photo’s here.

      I have been wanting a decent swim strap for the H7 for ages, as DC Rainmaker said in his review of the H7, it just does not stay in place when pushing off a wall. So if the H10 strap was better it would be worth purchasing if it works with the H7.

      I still think polar could go further with a swim specific strap that their H7 & H10 pods can clip into. Super grippy especially at the front so it can not flip or slide. They have made different colours but never invested in a great swim strap. A normal fabric will struggle to be grippy enough.

      DC would be great to here a review of how the H10 strap performs in the pool.

      Reply
    • tfk

      I would imagine it would fit and that it would work. Garmin’s straps (HRM3-run?) have the extra sensors and every ant+ pod, pretty much, seems to work fine with it

      not entirely convinced that it is JUST the strap that causes it to come off. the strap, as shown, might be a bit grippier than the old strap with more rubber bits and the nobbly sections.

      however it may well also depend on the forward facing profile of the pod. ie if it is thinner and more flush with the body then it might come off the body a bit less. I wear garmin’s HRM-TRI (not HRM-SWIM, too uncomfortable not stretchy) and the pod is integral to the strap and generally it’s great at staying on in the pool. can’t remember when I last used the suunto one, that’s a VERY small pod, but I do seem to remember it still coming off a bit.

      so yes there could be a benefit, gut feeling would be probably not.

      solution trisuit/wetsuit :-)

      Reply
    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The H7 sensor will fit onto the revised strap that comes with the H10. As for the H10 working simultaneously with speed/cadence/power/stride sensors, yes it has that ability.

      Reply
    • Ricardo

      Mike, Is there any benefit in using the H7 sesonor with the strap that comes with the H10, like better accuracy?

      Reply
    • Mike@PolarUSA

      The strap that will be sold with the H10 does offer an added level of HR accuracy. It does so with the combination of the added electrodes along with the ‘nubs’ along its back that will help prevent slippage when training with it.

      Reply
  20. Stefan

    Being a marathon runner, I use a M400 for 2 years now, with a H7 strap. First one had a durability of 9 months, second one (with more cleaning) 15 months. Polar says, straps are consumable supplies. I definitely will not buy a much more expensive strap, when everyone is moving away from straps to optical wrist measurement. GoPro is nonsense for me, nor does a strap give me GPS information. Hope, Polar will keep selling the H7.
    As this is my first post, thanks a lot for your blog.

    Reply