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Garmin Adds Wrist Temperature and More: How it Works

Garmin has begun rolling out wrist temperature tracking to watches with the newer Garmin ELEVATE V5 optical heart rate sensor in them, which includes the Garmin Epix Pro, Fenix 7 Pro, Tactix 7 AMOLED, and Venu 3 series. Those are the same watches that recently got ECG capabilities via this new sensor hardware (ELEVATE V5 sensors).

In addition, this update is actually part of the much broader Garmin Q4 2023 wearables update, which brings a slate of new features to most of their newest Outdoor & Fitness watches, including the things listed on the following chart from Garmin:

As you can see, it’s a bit of an eye-chart trying to figure out which is which, but things are slowly getting more cohesive in the Garmin world, at least in terms of software update timing/features coordination – all part of that new quarterly update program introduced about 18 months ago.

The big ticket items are:

– Running Power & Running Dynamics to Venu 3
– Nap tracking to everyone who didn’t already have it (within the products listed)
– New ‘Workouts’ app that consolidates planned workouts into one spot
– Red Shift gets added to Forerunner 265/965/Venu 3 (used to be Epix only)
– Dexcom CGM to everyone listed above
– Images on watch in text messages on Android (Apple’s iOS doesn’t permit 3rd parties to do this)

The noted ‘Body battery enhancements’ are essentially now showing the contributing factors (e.g., workouts, naps, sleep, etc…), which rolled out on the Venu 3/Vivoactive 5.

Skin Temperature Feature:

All of the above things in that chart have been in public beta now for about a month or so; however, skin/wrist temperature is actually the singular one that wasn’t in public beta.

Well, at least not entirely. See, back when Garmin announced this Venu 3/3S public beta update a month ago, they accidentally included the skin/wrist temperature line in the release notes on the forum for a day or so. However, while the firmware did include that feature, the corresponding public smartphone apps did not. Thus, you couldn’t see the wrist temperature data even if you’d updated your watch with the latest firmware. However, behind the scenes, it was quietly collecting it nonetheless. Thus today with the latest update, you’ll likely see all that wrist temperature data.

So, let’s quickly dive into it. First, this is only available on Garmin’s ELEVATE V5 watches – those are the ones with the newer optical sensor hardware that looks like this on the underside of your watch:

Again, specifically that’s the Garmin Epix Pro, Fenix 7 Pro, Tactix 7 AMOLED, and Venu 3 series. Quirkily, it does not include the also-brand-new MARQ Carbon or Descent Mk3 watches, as those were based on the older ELEVATE V4 sensors.

Next, this data is only collected during sleep. Thus, you’ll need to sleep. And specifically, you’ll need to sleep for 3 nights to create a baseline. This is the same as what Apple does. More specifically, that baseline is specific to the individual watch. If you switch from a Venu 3 to an Epix Pro, then the baseline starts over again.

Once you’ve reached your baseline, you’ll start seeing skin temperature variations each night in your sleep stats. Like virtually every other wearable, Garmin isn’t showing the exact skin/wrist temperature, instead, just the deviation each night from your established baseline. You can also trend this data over various time periods.

Above, you’ll see it ended on my chart in mid-late November, when I switched to a different watch that didn’t have this particular beta firmware on it. Once I upgrade that watch to the new production firmware, then after 3 nights, it’ll resume my sleep wrist temperature data.

Here you can see a more complete and comprehensive image of the data on my wife’s Fenix 7 Pro, as she wasn’t off switching/flirting with other watches constantly:

Garmin says that they currently baseline the temperature data 20-days back, thus, if you (smartly) move from a cold place in winter like Norway to a tropical island like Tahiti, it’ll take about 20 days to re-adjust your baseline. Additionally, this data isn’t shown anywhere on the device itself, only on the app.

Is This Data Useful?

Now, the better question is whether this data is useful. And at the present with Garmin’s implementation, the answer is mostly ‘today, not really’. At least not yet. See, the primary use case for skin/wrist temperature data today from most companies is fertility-focused, typically around ovulation cycle prediction. We’ve seen Whoop and Oura doing this for quite a while now, and generally speaking, with scary accuracy levels, even for irregular cycles.

However, watchmakers have been more hesitant. For example, Apple introduced skin temperature data in Fall 2022 with the Apple Watch Series 8/Ultra; however, they don’t do forward-looking period prediction. Instead, they just do it historically (looking back at your data and figuring out your cycles there). Whereas Whoop/Oura do it forward-looking.

The next challenge with this type of data is it’s highly influenced by environmental factors. Specifically the temperature of the room you’re in, and even how much you burrow yourself in your sheets. Simply put, if you’re in a chilly winter bedroom the values will show colder than a hot sweaty tent in summer. But of course, those differences are no different than a hotel room heated differently during a vacation.

Today, Garmin hasn’t yet implemented sensor-driven period prediction. It’s true that Garmin has period prediction features, but they’re based entirely on you manually logging data/symptoms, not on skin/wrist temperature data. So, while the company has long been a leader when it comes to female health tracking and the metrics and features, in the last 1-2 years, that’s been slipping a bit. Still, the new Gen5 sensor and this new wrist temperature tracking should hopefully put them in a position to start leveraging that data. And my guess would be that they’ll have the data sets quickly as this firmware update rolls out, to be able to move fast on that – especially cross-referencing to the cycle tracking data women are already logging in Garmin Connect.

As for other uses, there’s certainly been some looking at how the data can mesh with sickness, but again, environmental factors (again including how much you burrow in sheets when sick) can be really hard to mitigate data-wise. Likewise, while studies have shown how there are very slight shifts in body temperature between different sleep phases, most of those studies are done in highly regulated environments, rather than the wild blue yonder of a Holiday Inn or a tent in the wilderness. Thus, sifting through that level of noise in the real world is significantly trickier.

As always though, many things are baby steps. With that, thanks for reading!

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67 Comments

  1. Torstein

    If I remember correctly, you ski a bit, Ray?
    Do you know the reason for the so-called ‘Enhancements’ to the skiing activity?
    Before the watch only recorded the actual downhill part of the skiing, but now everything is recorded. The downhill run, the queue time for the lift, and the uphill ride in the lift.
    I cannot in any way se how that is an enhancement? It just messes up the actual skiing statistics, and add meaningless uphill segments in Strava for the lift rides…

    • I kinda agree to be honest. I think the theory is that you can see those stats separately – though I’m honestly not sure why/who wants that. I don’t see anyone providing feedback in the beta group around that feature, likely because for most people, it was still a bit to early for snow/skiing (some are luckier).

      I’m happy to have someone explain why this is better, but in general, agree that it just seems messier.

      Here’s the official explanation that was innitially released in the beta release notes:

      “This Beta cycle introduces improvements to the Auto Run feature during Ski and Snowboard activities. We will no longer automatically pause during the chairlift portion of your runs, so your metrics will be continuously tracked throughout the entire activity. While you will not notice any differences on your device, your synced Ski/Snowboard activities may display some anomalies in Connect until this feature improvement is rolled out publicly. You may notice differences in your Run count, Elevation, Time, and Distance. Most should be more accurate, however it is likely you will see your Run count double as downhill and lifts will each be counted as individual Runs.”

      Though, making matters even less clear, now that I re-read the final/official description in the Q4 release notes, it says:

      “SKI ACTIVITY ENHANCEMENTS:
      When the auto-tracking of ski runs is enabled, you’ll get a
      recording of metrics — such as heart rate, time, elevation
      and more — during your skiing. The activity will still
      record automatically when you’re are skiing downhill and
      will now pause when on a chairlift.”

      Which, is exactly how it worked previously (unless, likely, it should say “NOT” instead of “NOW”).

      link to www8.garmin.com

    • Torstein

      Thanks for the reply, winter came early here in Norway, so the season started two weeks ago :)

      Maybe/hopefully Garmin had a change of heart and changed it back to lift=pause for the official release? But most likely a typo as you say. I guess I will find out when it is officially released.

    • SoCorsu

      Hi, i saw a couple of posts & 4-5 bug reports during the beta phase about this enhancement, without feedback from Garmin.
      One report is always discussed with Kelly_ODQA and the user.

      I do not understand why this 15.74 system version was released.
      When we a month (release date) before the end of the quarter and some features are not so stable, with bug report about multiple crashes using 15.74 Beta.
      We need to take the time …

    • Mark

      I very much want this change, though my situation is a bit of an outlier to say the least. I have a toddler I take skiing every weekend. With the old way data was recorded, the schlepping of everyones gear from the car to the lift and back wasn’t tracked, nor was anytime I had to carry my son (pretty regular through the lift line). This is particularly pronounced on days when we’d be primarily on the magic carpet (vs a regular lift) as we spend more time in line (where I have to pick him up each time we moved forward) then we did actually skiing. I would often be a bit wrecked after 2-3 hours of this, but the activity stats made it look like I had pretty easy time of it. I switched to tracking via the cross country skiing activity, and it would capture that detail. But then I’d lose run tracking!

    • Juro

      Garmin has a long-standing problem with how activities with long pauses impact metrics that are tracked 24/7. Reading the release notes it sounds like an attempt to fix that.

    • Juro

      Here’s the example of that problem:
      – A 1 hr run with a 30 min break
      – The green “activity” marker only covers the 1 hr of “net running” (excluding pauses)
      – Because of that, Move IQ detected another “run activity”
      – This results in a calorie double-count as there’s a period of high HR activity that sits outside of the recorded run

    • jaam

      Personally I would like something like this for the Surf activity – which at the moment is like skiing i.e. only shows your waves.
      I would prefer to be able to see those seperately but would also like to see my whole track, where I was paddling where i was sitting etc and total tracked distance including the paddling and the wave riding.
      I sort of wonder if this was the idea behind making that skiing change to give you the whoie picture of the activity and not just the runs…

    • Tsachi Avrahami

      I kind of like the no-pause. The old system would sometimes take 10+ seconds to start recording again after a pause, especially going in glades where starting is slower. Garmin actually handled the information correctly in terms of # runs (only counted the downhill). It also shows in Connect runs in red and lifts in gray.
      Strava sync, on the other hand, was a mess. Strava treated each chairlift as a run (doubling the number of runs). Then again, Strava always made the pause / restart worse. As can be seen in the picture from a sync with lift pauses – these are all the same chairlift and actually showing correctly in Garmin but show very differently in Strava

    • Todd Johnson

      I asked for this change in one of the Garmin forums, if this works as pictured I’ll be very excited.

      I really want my watch to track continuously while skiing, but extract metrics like total “vertical downhill” from the full track. It just isn’t good enough at deciding exactly when to pause; I find it grating when I stop to wait for my kid to catch up to me and then it loses the first 10 seconds when I restart.

      Also, pausing on lifts and restarting when it decides I’ve gained enough speed leads to Strava tracks where it jumps from the bottom of the lift to a random place near the top, instead of just following the lift. My plan without this update was to create a “workout” mode, track continuously, and then label it as skiing in Strava after upload. This would be much better.

    • Todd Johnson

      This is my friend tracking the same day with Slopes, I would much prefer my track look like this.

    • Todd Johnson

      Got to try it out this weekend. It works so much better!

    • SoCorsu

      And we can confirm that Garmin release this 15.74 too quickly, we receive 2 new minor releases only including fixes since …

      The next time it culd be a good idea to use the Beta phase even during the last quarter of the month. So three more weeks could be used to test the system before Public release

      link to forums.garmin.com
      15.74 – released – Nov. 30 2023
      15.76 – released – Dec. 12 2023
      15.77 – released – Dec. 21 2023

    • Todd Johnson

      Lol they broke this again. RIP nice looking maps.

  2. Teddy

    Hi Ray, is 945 LTE going to follow 955 like usual, or are we out of the update loop now?

  3. Jesper N

    Didn’t you forget something about Body battery?? Or left something in, that was supposed to be removed.
    You start out with “The noted ‘Body battery enhancements’ are….” but that the first time mentioned….

    • Peter

      I was hoping for “Sleep Coach” on the non-pro Fenix 7/Epix … and half assuming that this was enabled by both Nap Detection and the body battery improvements.

      Is there any hope left?

    • In the video, or post?

      In the post it says: “The noted ‘Body battery enhancements’ are essentially now showing the contributing factors (e.g. workouts, naps, sleep, etc…), which rolled out on the Venu 3/Vivoactive 5.”

  4. Patrick Coenen

    well, it looks that the fenix 6 series is official an old timer from now on. No new features thee, so I have to save some monney for the F7pro to be on the latest thing

  5. Pavel Vishniakov

    Hi Ray,
    I’m curious, what would happen in the following scenario:
    For example, I have two Elevate V5 watches (F7 Pro and Venu).
    * I have established a night temperature baseline with my Venu
    * When I switch to F7 Pro, my baseline will be reset and I will have to re-establish it again
    * When I switch back to Venu, will I have to re-establish the baseline or will it remember the baseline that was established before?

    • It resets it for the F7 Pro, and then when you go back to the Venu, it resumes it from the previous Venu 3 one.

      In fact, I literally just did that last night. I was on Venu 3, then Epix Pro, then Tactix 7 AMOLED (but w/o new firmware), and then last night went back to Epix Pro, and it picked up where it left off. Which I presume to be from that specific unit data.

  6. Jesper N

    I can’t help wondering how much better the skin temp data would be, if the sensor was on the other side of the wrist. Integrated into the band.
    That would put the sensor close to all the blood vessels exposed there, so the temp should be close to you true body temp and thous much more useful. Including during activities. Your hydration level must impact sweat production, which then affects body temp.

    This could easily be tested by Garmin, with a watch worn “face down”… And a modified Tempe sensor as step two. If it can be powered reliable and securely through the band from the watch, then there can’t be much circuitry left.

  7. Jesper N

    Taking about new Garmin sw. I really hope they’re considering merging all the sleep stuff into one app/widget.
    So that Sleep Score, Sleep Coach and Naps just becomes Sleep. Maybe including Jet Lag too (have never used)

    Fully aware if doesn’t look as impressive in the marketing pictures/vids, but the widget carousel is full enough as is. Could be an addition, while keeping the others.
    I bit off topic, sorry…

  8. Neil Jones

    I wonder if the addition of Dexcom CGM tracking will open the door to integrating with other CGMs? I get there might be the usual regulatory hurdles for health-based CGMs, but I’m thinking more of things like Supersapiens that are specifically sold as a fitness sensor, and whose current integration with Garmin watches via a CIQ app is about as basic as it could possibly be.

  9. Sangeet Agarwal

    Hi
    I got a Venu 3 around 20 days back and I am from Canada. I never got any updates about ECG, it doesn’t show up on my connect app for setup. By any do you know if these updates are global roll out or only for US?

    • Ted

      Hi Sangeet: The ECG function doesn’t (yet?) apply to Canada–think it needs to go thru Health Canada for approval so, we’ll likely be waiting a L O N G time for this feature!!

  10. Paul Thomas

    Hi. Do you have any information on whether Garmin will limit data exchange of blood glucose measurement from Dexcom or will they expand to other CGM offerings such as FreeStyle Libre 3?

  11. Eli

    If the watch already has a temp sensor that attempts to be an ambient temp does it use that to better gauge the meaning of the skin temp sensor?

    • Benedikt

      The sensor in the watch never attempted to be an ambient temp sensor. It was always the temp inside the device, it was always needed to correct barometric drift. It was always Nonsens to track it in the .fit files wich was thankfully stoped a few months ago.
      Garmin never said it is ambient temp. For „ambient“ temp, weather data is collected online.

    • Paul S.

      Or you can use a Tempe. Garmin released the Tempe with the original Fenix. It’s hard to measure ambient temperature with a device attached to your body temperature arm.

  12. Anthony

    Will any of these features be coming to Instinct 2?

    The nap detection particularly would be great.

  13. EfthimisVl00

    Will the Instinct 2 get any of these features later on?

  14. Adje

    Dear Ray,

    Do you know the difference between the temperature sensors in the Garmin Fenix 7, Garmin Forerunner 255 and 256, and the temperature sensor in the Gen 5 Elevate hardware?
    Is it the placement, or also the type of sensor?

    Kind regards

    • The Forerunners today all have Gen4 sensors, as does the non-Pro Fenix 7 & Epix.

      Whereas the Epix Pro/Fenix 7 Pro/Venu 3 have the physically new sensor pod, which includes the sensor plates that measure both ECG & skin temp.

    • Adje

      But the Forerunners and Fenix 7 also measure temperature (they have a thermometer in it). But what is the difference? Are the Forerunners and Fenix 7 measuring the outside temperature, while for the Gen 5, it is really skin T?

    • Paul S.

      As someone mentions in another comment, you need a thermometer if you’re going to use your barometer as an altimeter. You need to know the temperature of the sensor in order to correctly obtain altitude. That isn’t the same as “outside” (ambient) temperature, since watches generally are attached to body temperature arms. If you’ve ever looked at the temperature readings from a Fenix worn on your wrist, you can see that it’s usually warmer than ambient. Garmin created the Tempe ANT+ sensor to try to remedy that (you put the sensor somewhere away from your body). In Gen 5 I’d guess there are two thermometers, one for the barometer and one against your skin.

  15. Roberto Morabito

    Hi.
    I don’t see wrist temperature yet on my updated Fenix 7 pro, if I understood well, I have to wait for Garmin connect app to be updated too?

  16. vpier

    Are we expecting another beta before the year ends or we are moving to January 2024 for a new beta version?

    • This is the culmination of that beta cycle (Q4). Thus, we’d be looking at the next beta cycle, probably starting in mid-late January or so. Just depends on the exact timing of where things are and how the holidays impact that.

  17. Daniel

    Hey Ray, I got an email from Garmin yesterday that said I could now receive photos on my Edge computer when connected to Apple or Android. That seems to differ from your comment about third parties and photos with iOS. Maybe it is possible? Or maybe Apple blocks it on watches because of the Apple Watch competition?

    • Paul S.

      The email (at least the one I got) says that photos work only with Android. Notifications also work with iOS, but that was already the case.

    • Daniel

      Ah, I can see that now. I reread it a couple times before I wrote my post but I must have been reading what I wanted to hear.

  18. Farhan

    Hello ,

    Why havent you given any details on the new Garmin Descent Mk3i 51mm ? I have been waiting for so long for this. A review would be soo much help.. Thanks alot

  19. acousticbiker

    Thanks, Ray! Strange that Sleep Coach isn’t in the feature x watch chart. Any word on whether/when that will come to epix?

  20. fiatlux

    Wouldn’t skin temperature (as a proxy to body temperature) be useful to track/analyse when doing long races (such as marathons or ultra trails)?

    • Thomas

      Core temperature would be useful.
      Skin temperature measured by the watch is far too much influenced by the surrounding, wind, headwind, your body movement…
      Same reason why it only measures during sleep and only compares deltas, assuming that you sleep in the same way and environment every night.

  21. Thomas

    What I would like to have in regard to nap detection: Nap alarm clock! Wake me up 20 min after I fell asleep! Not 20 min from know, but from when the watch detects me being napping.

  22. Nick Boswell

    Here is a silent feature added with this update! They finally added the native moon phase widget! This is a fenix 7X Pro Solar

  23. Alex

    Is it just me or did the battery consumption go up noticeably? I’m on a Fenix 7S Solar and the battery life felt really weak since the update. Specifically now, within a day and a half and only one day of workout I’ve lost 50%. That’s wild. Didn’t enable anything new and there is no way this could be normal.

  24. JR

    Is this a replacement for a CORE sensor?

  25. anand

    it could be helpful in detecting low grade fevers from insidious infections in an immuno compromised person. any thoughts?